Utah Valley hammers UH, 12-1
• Photo gallery: Saturday's UH vs. Utah Valley
By Stacy Kaneshiro
Advertiser Staff Writer
Chris Benson hit for the cycle to back the strong pitching of Justin Smith to help Utah Valley smash Hawai'i, 12-1, last night and snap a five-game losing streak in front of 2,979 at Les Murakami Stadium.
Benson, 4 for 4 with three runs and three RBI, hit a two-run triple in the first, doubled and scored in the fourth, hit a solo homer in the sixth and singled and scored in the eighth.
The right-handed Smith (8-4) allowed a run, five hits and three walks with 10 strikeouts in 8 1/3 innings, using 127 pitches in the process, for the Wolverines (17-35). The run he allowed scored on a balk. Brian Whatcott pitched the final two outs.
Nate Klein (2-4) allowed four runs, five hits and a walk with three strikeouts in four innings for the Rainbows (31-23). Four other relievers that followed him also gave up at least one run.
The Wolverines struck in the first inning. Jake Rickenbach led off with a walk and took second on Cole Anderson's single. After the next two batters made outs, Benson tripled to right-center to give Utah Valley a 2-0 lead.
Utah Valley added two more in the fourth. Billy Burgess led off with a single and took third on Benson's double to left. With the infield drawn in, Goose Kallunki hit a chopper over shortstop Greg Garcia for a two-run single to increase the Wolverines' lead to 4-0.
Benson's solo home run to left with one out in the sixth off Jesse Moore gave Utah Valley a 5-0 lead.
Hawai'i finally got on the board in the seventh when Sean Montplaisir led off with a triple to right-center and scored on a balk.
The Wolverines cushioned their lead with two in the eighth. Burgess led off with a single and went to third on Benson's single that completed his cycle. With the infield playing in, Kallunki grounded out to short, as the runner on third held and Benson went to second. Lenny Linsky was pulled for Josh Slaats. With the infield still drawn in, both runners scored on first baseman Kevin Macdonald's fielding error to make it 7-1.
The Wolverines added five in the ninth to take a 12-1 lead.
The top four seeds for this week's WAC tournament have been set. San Jose State is the regular season champion and No. 1. Louisiana Tech is second, Fresno State is third and New Mexico State is fourth. Fresno State won a tie-breaker against NMSU for the higher seed. Both split a four-game series and both had same road records in conference. The next tie-breaker was record against the first-place team. Fresno State split a series with San Jose State, while NMSU dropped 3 of 4 from SJSU.
If Nevada beats San Jose State today, the Wolf Pack will be the fifth seed and UH sixth.
Long-time Mid-Pacific Institute baseball coach Dunn Muramaru was honored before last night's game as the Chuck Leahey Award recipient.