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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Sunday, February 5, 2006

Aztecs beat 'Bows in series finale, 7-5

By Stacy Kaneshiro
Advertiser Staff Writer

San Diego State made the plays, despite committing three errors, and the pitches to stop Hawai'i, 7-5, yesterday to avoid getting swept in the four-game nonconference series.

Joseph Scaperotta's RBI single to right against a drawn-in infield scored the go-ahead run in the top of the seventh for the Aztecs (1-3), snapping a 5-5 tie against reliever Dean Turner (0-1) before 1,205 at Les Murakami Stadium.

The Rainbows (3-1) rallied from a 5-1 deficit, but Michael Koons (1-0) pitched three-hit ball, allowing an unearned run in 4 2/3 innings of relief to keep UH from yet another come-from-behind win. Hawai'i rallied from early deficits in each of the first three games of the series.

"We made three more errors tonight, but I'll take the 'W,' " SDSU coach Tony Gwynn said "You know 1 and 3 is much better leaving than 0 and 4. The difference today was our guys did a heck of a job battling and throwing strikes."

Hawai'i played without its heart of the order. The Nos. 3, 4 and 5 hitters DH Justin Frash (shoulder), first baseman Kris Sanchez (hamstring) and outfielder/catcher Matt Inouye (knee) sat with injuries. Frash and Sanchez were injured Thursday, while Inouye bruised his knee when he awkwardly slid into home plate while scoring in Friday's game.

"It's a testament to these guys," UH coach Mike Trapasso said. "I've never seen a team lose their three-, four- and five-hole hitters all in the same series, yet, we were able to battle through for great portion of the game."

Still, UH needed to make better pitches and plays.

Starter Justin Costi did not have command of his fastball. He gave up a three-run homer to Paul Smyth in the third and a two-run single to Curt Mendoza in the fifth. In 4 1/3 innings, Costi allowed 10 hits with six strikeouts and no walks.

"It's just a tough outing for him," Trapasso said. "He just didn't have it from the start."

There were several plays UH did not make. Before Mendoza's two-run single, Smyth hit a high fly to deep right with a runner on first. Right fielder Jorge Franco misplayed the ball and it bounced in for a ground-rule double, putting the runners in scoring position.

"I thought he could catch that," Trapasso said. "He just got turned around a bit."

Then in the seventh, with the score tied at 5, Smyth led off with a double. After Mendoza popped to second, Mendoza took third on a wild pitch from Turner to make the count 3-2. The Rainbows brought the infield in and Scaperotta drilled a hard grounder past second baseman Joe Spiers to drive in the go-ahead run.

"The ball was hit well, but again, it's a play that you have to make," Trapasso said. "If you're able to get to it, you're able to make the play. (Spiers) thinks he should've made it."

The Aztecs added an insurance run in the eighth that was unearned. With one out, Quintin Berry singled to center, but center fielder Derek DuPree bobbled the ball long enough for the speedy Berry to take second. Berry advanced to third on a wild pitch, and Jordan Swaydan walked, ending Turner's day.

Freshman right-hander Matt Daly came in and his first pitch went off freshman catcher Landon Hernandez's glove for a passed ball that scored Berry.

Hawai'i took a 1-0 lead in the first in bizarre fashion. Robbie Wilder led off with a walk, stole second and was moved to third on Spiers' groundout to second. Jon Hee was hit by a pitch to put runners at the corners. Luis Avila hit a popup to first that first baseman Smyth missed. Smyth managed to get Hee at second for the force, but Wilder scored.

The Rainbows scored three in the fifth, the first off a wild pitch and the other two on Avila's bases-loaded double. The runner at first would've easily scored and tied the game at 5, but the ball bounced over the fence for a ground-rule double, sending the runner back to third.

Hawai'i's other run in the sixth was the result of two errors in the inning by the Aztecs.

UH opens a three-game series with UC Irvine Friday.

GWYNN A CLASS ACT

San Diego State coach Tony Gwynn, who played for the Hawai'i Islanders in 1982, was an ambassador for baseball during this series. After his team lost its third in a row Friday night, Gwynn held up the team bus to accommodate autograph seekers. "I think it's great that they remember you," Gwynn said. "I tell (my players) all the time that part of your responsibility when you get to the big leagues is more than just cashing a paycheck. ... Lots of people look up to you and regardless if you're playing or retired, there's a responsibility that comes with that." The .338-career hitter of 20 major league seasons is eligible for the Hall of Fame next year.

Reach Stacy Kaneshiro at skaneshiro@honoluluadvertiser.com.

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