Rodrigues strong-arms Irvine as UH prevails, 3-1
By Stacy Kaneshiro
Advertiser Staff Writer
By Stacy Kaneshiro
The Mark Rodrigues Hawai'i had hoped for two years ago delivered big time yesterday.
The junior left-hander pitched seven strong innings to beat UC Irvine, 3-1, as UH took 2 of 3 in the pitching-dominated series.
"He wasn't over-throwing like he was last week and we needed him to do just," UH coach Mike Trapasso said. "To go seven innings and put up all zeros, you couldn't ask for a better way to get your first win after all he's been through."
A gathering of 962 at Les Murakami Stadium watched the Rainbows improve to 5-2, while the Anteaters fell to 4-3.
Rodrigues, a 2001 Kaua'i High graduate, missed the past two seasons recovering from Tommy John elbow surgery after transferring from Los Medanos JC. His performance was a nice retort to Saturday's 1-0 loss to UCI freshman Scott Gorgen, who pitched a two-hitter over 8 1/3 innings.
"I felt I had good command of my fastball," Rodrigues said. "I threw 80 percent fastballs. I was concentrating on getting the first batter out because they're an action team. If they get that first batter on, you'll see a lot of action with the bat, so I was just going after that first batter."
He retired the lead-off batter in six of the seven innings. The only runner to reach third against him was Matthew Morris. He led off the third with a single, took second on a sacrifice and made it to third when Tyler Vaughn was thrown out at first on a close play after second baseman Eli Christensen bare-handed a chopper over second. Taylor Holiday was hit by a pitch, but was thrown out trying to steal to end the threat.
Rodrigues retired 11 in a row before allowing a two-out single to Jaime Martinez in the seventh. He was lifted despite a relatively low pitch count at 73.
"His pitch count was low, but that last inning, he was a little gassed," Trapasso said.
Darrell Fisherbaugh started the eighth — the first time he has started an inning of relief since March 25, 2004 at Louisiana Tech — allowing a single with two strikeouts. But he walked and hit a batter to start the ninth inning. Rich Olsen finished for his first save of the season with three consecutive flyouts that were interrupted by a wild pitch and sacrifice fly by Martinez that spoiled the shutout.
The Rainbows took a 1-0 lead in the first inning against UCI starter Glenn Swanson. With one out, Robbie Wilder doubled off third baseman Vaughn's glove, took third when Jon Hee grounded out to first after a diving stop by first baseman Cody Cipriano and scored on Luis Avila's ground single to left.
Swanson (1-1) was pulled after five innings and 57 pitches because he was on a 60-pitch limit, as he is recovering from an injury that forced him to redshirt last season, UCI coach Dave Serrano said.
"I'm sure a lot of people are questioning that, but I want him for the whole run," Serrano said. "I don't want to do anything to him now to hurt him."
The Rainbows got insurance runs in the sixth against Chris Lopez. With one out, Hee reached first when Martinez made another diving stop of a grounder, but had trouble getting the ball out of his glove so he shoveled the glove to Lopez, who covered first but couldn't get control of the gloved ball. Martinez was charged with an error.
After Avila flied out to deep left, Justin Frash crushed a fastball, sending it near the top of the right-field wall for an RBI triple.
"I was just trying to hit it in the gap somewhere to drive the run in," Frash said.
Frash then scored when Jorge Franco reached first on third baseman Vaughn's throwing error. But on the play, Franco was thrown out going to second.
The Anteaters committed four errors in the game, finishing with seven in the series.
While winning their second series in as many weeks was nice, the Rainbows still have issues. Three runners were caught off base.
"We have a lot to work on," Hee said. "It's still early. We're still trying to find our way."
"That's why I told our guys be happy, but don't be satisfied," Trapasso added. "We showed we have plenty of things we need to improve on."
Hawai'i plays Division II Hawai'i Pacific (6-6) 6:35 p.m. tomorrow at Murakami Stadium before opening a three-game series at Loyola Marymount on Friday.
Reach Stacy Kaneshiro at email@example.com.