'Bows blank Spartans, 6-0
|UH vs. San Jose State|
By Stacy Kaneshiro
Advertiser Staff Writer
By Stacy Kaneshiro
Joshua Schneider dominated with finesse to help Hawai'i beat San Jose State, 6-0, yesterday and avoid a Western Athletic Conference baseball series sweep.
Schneider (3-1) fired a five-hitter and walked one with two strikeouts to register his first complete game and lower his earned run average to 1.91. Not one Spartan reached second base, as he faced just one batter over the minimum with the aid of five double plays, one shy of the school record, before 1,389 at Les Murakami Stadium.
"I finally had some things working," said Schneider, a junior right-hander who used 100 pitches. "I thought it was a great defensive win today. Lot of double plays. The defense was perfect. A lot of guys were hustling, that was the key."
Avoiding the sweep also kept the Rainbows (22-11 overall, 3-3 WAC) in the middle of the WAC pack. They share second place with three teams, including the Spartans (18-12, 3-3), just a game back of first-place Fresno State (17-17, 4-2), which swept Sacramento State over the weekend.
"It's really all about keeping pace within the league," UH coach Mike Trapasso said. "We're a game out even though in reality we played terrible this weekend, but came back quite good today and now we're a game out and we have to play better and win on the road, which we like doing."
The Rainbows play a three-game series at Sacramento State (14-18, 4-5) starting Thursday.
Spartans' starter Steven Vidal (1-2) kept it close for five innings. But UH finally put a crooked number up in the series with a three-run sixth, highlighted by Landon Hernandez's two-run home run to left that padded UH's lead to 4-0.
"My mindset is I have to keep being aggressive and keep playing tough," Schneider said. "It's a close game, one-nothing. If I give up a run, it would be a different ball game, so I tried to stay focused."
Schneider got 14 grounders that netted 19 outs. Trapasso said that was from Schneider keeping his fastball down.
"He's always had a little deception to him," Trapasso said. "There were times in the season when he threw and missed location and guys foul it off or pop it up. ... You can't say enough about the job he did. He picked us up when we needed it."
It was a double-thrill for Hernandez, who said catching the gem was a little more rewarding than his home run.
"I'm not a home run hitter; I just try to put the ball in play," said Hernandez, who was 2 for 4 with three RBIs. "I like catching guys who put the ball pretty much where you ask them to."
The Rainbows, held to one run in each of the first two games of the series, got their offense jumped-started with the bottom half of the order. Freshmen Kevin Macdonald and Vinnie Catricala were a combined 4 for 8 batting in the sixth and seventh holes. Hernandez, a sophomore, got UH on the board with an RBI single in the second after back-to-back singles by the freshmen.
"We wanted to shake things up and wanted the guys who were going to swing the bat," Trapasso said. "Our two rookies came through for us today. They got us on the board and swung the bats well. They're going to be tough and they're going to fight and scratch and claw for us and we're going to see a lot more of them."
The Rainbows still struggled the next three innings, squandering a golden opportunity in the fourth when Kris Sanchez led off with a double but was thrown out trying to score on a shallow chop single to left by Macdonald.
"You're always in a situation when you're in funk scoring-wise, you want to try to make things happen and force the action," Trapasso said. "Normally, you want to protect (a situation with) no outs, but we wanted to force the issue in that situation, so I have no problem with that."
Macdonald took second on the throw home and advanced to third on a balk, but was stranded there when the next two batters grounded out with Hernandez being robbed of a hit on a diving stop by shortstop Kyle Bellows for the third out.
The Rainbows finally gave Schneider some breathing room in the sixth. Sanchez doubled with one out and scored on Catricala's two-out single to right. Hernandez followed with his two-run homer to make it 4-0.
The bottom four batters of the order had half of UH's 12 hits.
"It's a team sport," Hernandez said of the contributions from the back-half of the order. "You have to pick the brothers up."
The front end added two runs off reliever Greg Shannon in the seventh. Jon Hee, Derek DuPree and Justin Frash (bunt) had successive singles to set up Brandon Haislet's two-run single to make it 6-0.
The Rainbows have a short week. They have today off, work out tomorrow, and leave for Sacramento Wednesday.
After the series, they have a nonconference game at Pacific April 10 and resume WAC play at Fresno State April 13 to 15.
Ian Harrington, who is on bereavement leave in Washington, will join the team in Sacramento. Trapasso said Harrington will start Thursday's series opener.
Reach Stacy Kaneshiro at email@example.com.