Wong powers 'Bows to sweep
|Photo gallery: Hawaii sweeps Loyola Marymount|
By Stacy Kaneshiro
Advertiser Staff Writer
By Stacy Kaneshiro
The Hawaiian Superman exists.
Freshman Kolten Wong drove in five runs on the strength of three home runs in successive at-bats — the last being a three-run shot to break a 3-all game in the bottom of the eighth inning — to help Hawai'i fend off relentless, but snake-bit Loyola Marymount, 6-5, yesterday and complete a four-game series sweep.
The Les Murakami Stadium crowd of 1,546 was brought to its feet by the 5-foot-10, 180-pound left-handed hitter's feat. They also saw the Rainbows (10-6) win their seventh in a row and the Lions (8-11) drop their ninth consecutive.
"How's that for a coming-out party?" UH coach Mike Trapasso said. "I'm happy for him. It's one heck of a day. Three home runs. I haven't seen that in a while."
The center fielder from the Big Island is the fifth Rainbow to hit three homers in a game, but the first to do it at Les Murakami/Rainbow Stadium. The previous four were away, including twice during the same series at, of all places, Wong Stadium, against UH-Hilo in 1979.
It was the first three-homer game by a Rainbow since Mark McWherter did it against Utah at the Western Athletic Conference tournament in Provo, Utah, in 1988. The 16th-round draft pick by the Minnesota Twins out of Kamehameha-Hawai'i leads the team with four home runs. His first also came on a Sunday against Mississippi State.
"I just saw the ball good today," said Wong, whose last two homers were to right-center in front of the scoreboard. "It was just one of those days.
"It's awesome, but it's more awesome that it helped the team. It feels good to help out."
Wong went 6 for 16 (.375) in the series with three homers, a double, a steal, five RBIs and seven runs. He lifted his batting average to .281.
All of Hawai'i's runs were driven in by homers. Kevin Macdonald led the team in homers for four innings when he hit his third of the season to lead off the second inning. In keeping with the theme of the day, Ollie Enos' three-run homer to center in the sixth gave the Lions a short-lived, 3-2 lead that was tied in the bottom of the sixth on Wong's second homer of the day.
Wong's first homer of the day was off LMU starter Ramiro Carreon and sailed over the right-field fence to increase UH's lead to 2-0 in the fourth inning.
With the game knotted at 3, Sean Montplaisir led off the bottom of the eighth with a single to left-center off Chris Eusebio (1-2). Kevin Fujii, making his second start of the season, failed to move the runner over when he bunted a pop out to the first baseman. But Greg Garcia lined a single off first baseman Ryan Wheeler's glove that moved Montplaisir to second. Wong came up and took a vicious cut and missed at Eusebio's first pitch. He crushed the next pitch out of the park.
"I was just trying to get a base hit so we could score the run," Wong said.
Sam Spangler, who entered the game with one out in the seventh after a 41-pitch outing Thursday, got the first batter to start the top of the ninth. But three successive singles pulled LMU to 6-4. After a balk moved runners to second and third, an RBI groundout to short made it 6-5 with the tying run taking third. But the left-handed Spangler (2-0) retired the left-handed hitting Wheeler on a fly to right to end the game. On deck was the left-handed hitting Angelo Songco.
"If they didn't have Wheeler and Songco (coming) up, I would've gone right to (the right-handed Josh) Slaats," Trapasso said of sticking with Spangler.
The game started with freshmen right-handers Matt Sisto for UH and Carreon for LMU engaging in a pitchers' duel. Carreon had given up just three hits in 5 1/3 innings, but all were home runs.
Sisto was shutting out the Lions through five, including battling out of a second-and-third situation with one out unscathed in the fifth. But he expended 26 pitches in that inning, bringing him to 73 in the game or his average from his previous three starts. It was a benchmark of sorts for Sisto, who was limited to seven innings his senior year at Cypress (Calif.) High last season because of an inflamed elbow.
"Every start now, he's shown fatigue about the 70-pitch mark," Trapasso said. "We need him to be able to go strong for 90 pitches."
"I hit that inning, where I was at 70, 80 pitches," Sisto said. "I started to get tired out there.
"A decent game, not that bad. I made one mistake and it cost me, but it's all right."
In the LMU sixth, Kyle Spraker pulled a single to left, but was erased when second baseman Shane Hoey snapped up a sharp grounder by Wheeler to start a double play. Sisto walked Songco, and Brad Bauer singled sharply up the middle to set up Enos' three-run homer to center. Sisto was pulled after walking Shon Roe on four pitches with his pitch count at 93. Alex Myers got the final out of the inning.
Still, Trapasso was pleased with Sisto's outing.
"He's making good pitches," Trapasso said. "He wasn't just relying on the changeup today. He worked on a slider over the week and got a couple of outs with it today."
The Rainbows definitely need Sisto to improve his endurance this weekend at the Rose City Invitational at PGE Park in Portland, Ore. They play Washington and Portland on Friday, Oregon on Saturday and play for either the championship or consolation Sunday. The road trip concludes with a single game Monday at Oregon State.
Trapasso said Nate Klein, who departed Friday's start after 5 2/3 innings because of discomfort in his throwing arm, will not make the trip. He will rest and rehab for 7 to 10 days. Trapasso said freshman Connor Little will make a start in the tourney, while the OSU game will be staffed.
Despite the Rainbows' success, they will have some issues to iron out.
"It was definitely our weekend, no doubt," Trapasso said. "We basically got all the breaks for the most part and we were able to make the most of them. When you're playing well and playing with confidence, sometimes things snowball. We have to work on some things, try to refine a couple areas. We're playing with a lot of toughness and that will cover up a lot of mistakes that we made."
Reach Stacy Kaneshiro at firstname.lastname@example.org.