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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Sunday, February 26, 2006

Hawai'i beats No. 24 USC for seventh straight victory

By Stacy Kaneshiro
Advertiser Staff Writer

The heart of Hawai'i's batting order returned and jumped started the Rainbows to a 7-3 victory over No. 24 Southern California last night to win their fourth series in as many weekends.

The largest crowd of the season at 3,481 at Les Murakami Stadium watched the Rainbows (11-2) extend their win streak to seven. The game was announced a sellout with 4,345 tickets issued.

Right fielder Matt Inouye, back for the first time since Feb. 11 when he injured his back in the UC Irvine series, drew a bases-loaded walk to tie the game at 1, and first baseman Kris Sanchez, out since the third game of the season against San Diego State, followed with an RBI single, driving in the go-ahead run to highlight a four-run fourth inning against Trojans' starter Ryan Cook.

"It felt great, especially with all these fans here," Inouye said of the large crowd. "It's such a good feeling knowing the fans are appreciating what we're doing out here. I just hope they keep coming out for us."

Inouye was 0 for 1 with two walks and a hit batsman.

Sanchez was 2 for 3 with a walk, RBI and run.

"We came in expecting to take the series from them," Sanchez said. "We got the first two games. Tomorrow, we're going for the sweep. We want to send them back to Southern California 0-3."

Joe Spiers, who entered last night's game with a .219 batting average, was 3 for 4 with three RBIs.

"Growing up, I used to follow SC a lot, all the sports, not just baseball," said Spiers, who is from Moreno Valley in Southern California. "They're a great team, have a good tradition, so it's good beating them."

Ian Harrington (2-1) went 6-plus innings, allowing two runs, 10 hits and a walk with one strikeout for the Rainbows. He labored, but fought out of trouble.

"In most of his innings, he had a hard time getting his curve over for strikes," UH coach Mike Trapasso said. "There were couple innings when his changeup left him as well. You'll give up some hits if you're throwing only one pitch for strikes. But the one thing you'll get from him is a battle."

Tyler Davis pitched the final three innings, allowing four hits and an unearned run in the ninth to notch his first save.

"He came in and threw strikes," Trapasso said. "He's been a little inconsistent on the year, but he works hard and he's got good stuff."

Cook (0-2) was charged with three runs on three hits and three walks with one strikeout in three-plus innings for the Trojans (7-7).

The Trojans struck first in the second. Baron Frost led off with a double to right-center, took third when Roberto Lopez grounded out to shortstop, and scored on Darin Vieira's ground out to second for a 1-0 lead.

The Rainbows came back with four in the fourth. Jon Hee and Justin Frash singled to put runners at first and second. Both advanced on a wild pitch before Luis Avila was hit by a pitch by Cook to load the bases. Shawn Olsen came in from the bullpen and walked Inouye on four pitches to tie the game at 1. Sanchez followed with an RBI single to right to reloaded the bases. But Olsen struck out Jorge Franco before a wild pitch scored Avila to make it 3-1 and send the other runners to second and third. After Lopez struck out, Spiers grounded a single up the middle to score Inouye, but Sanchez was thrown out trying to score from second by center fielder Daniel Perales to end the inning.

The Trojans made it 4-2 in the fifth, but Hawai'i added two in the sixth off Olsen for a 6-2 lead.

With one out, Sanchez singled to right and Franco reached on a squib single up the third baseline that rolled foul momentarily, only to roll back fair. Lopez walked to load the bases to set up Spiers' two-run ground single to center. Steve Martlaro replaced Olsen and struck out Robbie Wilder, and got Hee on a fly to center to end the inning.

Hee's RBI single to left increased the lead to 7-2 in the eighth, and UH threatened for more by loading the bases, only to have third baseman Matt Cusick rob Avila of a hit with a diving stop of a grounder and turning it into an inning-ending double play.

The series ends today at 1:05 p.m. Mark Rodrigues (1-0, 3.94) will start for UH against Tommy Milone (3-0, 2.57) in a matchup of left-handers.

Reach Stacy Kaneshiro at skaneshiro@honoluluadvertiser.com.

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