Baseball 'Bows complete sweep
Hawai'i rallied from a 6-2 deficit after five innings to turn back Louisiana Tech, 7-6, yesterday to complete a doubleheader, series and road trip sweep in Louisiana.
"It was some kind of day," UH coach Mike Trapasso said. "We had to battle through both games. But as we've seen all year, the character of this club came through. We got some breaks, had some good hits and made some good pitches."
Eli Christensen doubled home Matt Inouye from third with one out in the top of the ninth for the go-ahead run in Game 2.
The first-place Rainbows (37-12 overall), who won the three-hour rain-delayed opener, 5-3, improved to 14-6 in the Western Athletic Conference, increasing their lead to 1 1/2 games over second-place Fresno State and San Jose State, both 11-6.
"Honestly, coming into (the series), I was just looking for a split," Trapasso said. "Obviously, to win all four was big for us."
With the four-game series sweep at J.C. Love Field in Ruston, La., and the win at Grambling State on Tuesday, the Rainbows went 5-0 on the trip to improve their road record to 13-2. They have won eight in a row and 12 of their last 13.
"We still have a lot of work to do," cautioned Trapasso.
Unlike the previous days' blowouts (9-1 and 9-2), the Rainbows had to scratch and claw yesterday.
In the nightcap, the Bulldogs had a 6-2 lead after five innings, tagging UH starter Mark Rodrigues for four runs in 3 1/3 innings, the shortest stint of UH starters in the series. But the Rainbows chipped away with a solo home run by Luis Avila in the sixth and two runs in the seventh to pull to 6-5.
Hawai'i tied it in the eighth when Kris Sanchez walked with one out and was lifted for pinch-runner Joe Spiers, who stole second and scored on Jon Hee's single to right.
In the ninth, Inouye led off with a hustle double to left, took third when Esteban Lopez grounded out to second and scored on Christensen's double to right against Andrew Alsup (3-1).
"He's been big for us," Trapasso said of Christensen. "He had a great series."
The Rainbows were able to rally because relievers Tyler Davis and Matt Daly settled the game. Davis allowed a run in 3 2/3 innings. Daly (6-0) allowed a hit and a walk in two scoreless innings with four strikeouts.
"Our bullpen was very good," Trapasso said. "It had to be because we had to put up zeroes for a little while."
The Bulldogs also blew a lead in the opener. Jericho Jones hit a two-run, first-inning home run off Ian Harrington (6-3), who settled down while allowing three runs and six hits with no walks and four strikeouts in 7 2/3 innings. Darrell Fisherbaugh pitched the final 1 1/3 scoreless innings for his ninth save.
The Rainbows clawed back with an RBI single by Lopez in the second, followed by sacrifice flies in the third by Avila and in the fourth by Derek DuPree to take a 3-2 lead against LaTech starter Landon Braud (2-1). Braud went 4 2/3 innings, giving up three runs, nine hits and a walk, striking out one.
An RBI single by Justin Frash in the sixth made it 4-2, but a seventh-inning sacrifice fly by Brian Rike pulled LaTech to 4-3.
Hawai'i got an insurance run in the ninth. Frash led off with a double, took third when Avila grounded out to short and scored when Inouye singled off the glove of third baseman Ryan Hamilton.
Ironically, a March 19 rainout at UH forced this series to four games to account for the makeup. Rain nearly wiped out yesterday's games, delaying the opener by three hours. But once the game got started, the rain was no factor at all.
Hawai'i has secured one of the six berths for the WAC tournament set for May 25 to 28 at Fresno State. Its next goal is to be the top seed of the double-elimination tourney.
Hawai'i is off this week with four to play, including a three-game WAC series at San Jose State May 19 to 21.
Meanwhile, Fresno State and San Jose State still have games today with Nevada and New Mexico State, respectively. FSU and SJSU are also seeking series sweeps.
All eyes will be on the SJSU at FSU series this weekend. It would benefit the idle Rainbows if neither sweeps the series to assure UH would remain in first entering the final weekend of the regular season.