HAWAII VS. LOUISIANA TECH
LaTech stops UH in series opener
|Photo gallery: Hawaii vs. Louisiana Tech baseball|
By Stacy Kaneshiro
Advertiser Staff Writer
By Stacy Kaneshiro
Playing with a sense of urgency, Louisiana Tech got a clutch pitching performance from a freshman to beat Hawai'i, 5-1, last night.
Right-hander Jeb Stefan entered the game with a 7.67 earned run average, but shutdown the Rainbows before 1,252 at Les Murakami Stadium in the Western Athletic Conference series opener. Stefan (4-5) allowed a run, five hits and a walk with a season-high 12 strikeouts in going a season-high 7 2/3 innings for the Bulldogs (23-18 overall, 8-9 WAC).
"Jeb's a competitor and what he is is a four-pitch guy," Bulldogs' coach Wade Simoneaux said. "Fastball, slurve, changeup and palmball. He could throw any one of those at any time in the count. What I liked about him was the life in his legs. He pitches better than a freshman. He wanted to finish the game, but his count was in the 120 range. I'm not going to ruin an arm over a win."
Stefan threw 129 pitches before giving way to yet another freshman in Mike Jefferson, who pitched a scoreless 1 1/3 innings.
The Rainbows (26-17, 9-7) ran into a hot club, which is coming off a series split at Sacramento State and has won 10 of its last 12. The loss drops UH out of a tie for first with Nevada (7-4).
The Rainbows got the lead-off batter on in only three innings, but one was eventually erased on a double play. When the Rainbows had runners at second and third with no outs in the fifth they left the bases loaded. The only time the lead-off batter scored was when Ryan Morford homered to left-center in the eighth to account for UH's only run.
"I think you gotta give Stefan credit," UH coach Mike Trapasso said. "We looked lifeless and tired. I don't know if that was us or that was him.
"They were out there showing this is an important series to them. They had a lot of energy and they got after it and we didn't have any response."
Jayson Kramer (4-4) pitched his first complete game of the season, allowing five runs and seven hits with four strikeouts. However, three of the runs were unearned, coming after a two-out fielding error by third baseman Vinnie Catricala that was followed by Mark Threlkeld's three-run homer to left-center in the fourth inning that made it 4-0. Yet, for the most part, he kept his pitches down, getting 20 outs on grounders.
"The error obviously hurt, but errors are part of the game," Trapasso said. "He's got to move his feet and get in front of that ball, but that's kind of indicative of the way we were today. While physical errors are part of the game, it's a mental error when you don't use the technique you want. But errors are a part of the game and the only bad pitch that Kramer made all night came right after the error."
The Bulldogs took a 1-0 lead in the second when Chris Kersten led off with a double and scored on Alex Williams' single to center.
After Threlkeld's three-run homer in the fourth, he scored in the seventh after singling, taking second on a ground out and coming home on Kyle Roliard's single.
"That's a good-hitting team," Trapasso said of the Bulldogs. "They're playing well. They're playing hot. We looked tired. If we're going to bounce back, we're going to have to reach down and have some pride because they showed us this (series) was important to them."
The series resumes at 6:35 tonight.
Reach Stacy Kaneshiro at firstname.lastname@example.org.