'Bows' rally falls short in 9th, 8-6
• Photo gallery: Hawaii vs. Fresno State baseball Friday
By Stacy Kaneshiro
Advertiser Staff Writer
Once again, too little, too late.
Hawai'i's bats woke up too late and its pitching just could not stop the bleeding in an 8-6 loss to Fresno State last night in the Western Athletic Conference season and series opener for both teams.
The Rainbows (16-13 overall, 0-1 WAC) scored five in the bottom of the ninth, but left the bases loaded for the second time in the game before 2,741 at Les Murakami Stadium.
"We keep putting ourselves in this position," UH coach Mike Trapasso said. "It's easy to score four, five runs when you're down by five and six. But it starts with the guys on the mound. We've got to pitch better. We gave them nine freebies (six walks, two hit batters and an error). It's a shame."
The Bulldogs (18-12, 1-0) took an 8-1 lead into the bottom of the ninth when the Rainbows started their comeback. Zac Bischoff, who came in with one out in the eighth for starter Josh Poytress (4-2), who allowed a run, seven hits and a walk with a career-high eight strikeouts in 7 1/3 innings, gave up successive singles to Jeffrey Van Doornum, and pinch hitters Sean Montplaisir and Christian Johnson.
Sean Bonesteele came in and got Matt Roquemore to pop out to short. But Greg Garcia's RBI single was followed by Kolten Wong's three-run triple to pull UH to 8-5. An out later, a wild pitch scored Wong to make it 8-6 before Collin Bennett drew an eight-pitch walk.
Bonesteele was pulled for Cody Kendall, who walked Kevin Macdonald and Van Doornum to load the bases. But Kendall notched his second save by getting Montplaisir to strike out on a check swing.
The Rainbows, who out-hit the Bulldogs, 13-11, stranded 11 runners, including the bases loaded twice. They put themselves in a hole from the start, when starter Josh Slaats (3-2) labored with command and saw two of his four walks eventually cross the plate.
The Bulldogs took a 2-0 lead in the second after Slaats issued a lead-off walk to Dusty Robinson and when Trent Garrison reached on a fielder's choice when he grounded to short for an apparent double play, but second baseman Wong dropped shortstop Garcia's throw.
"I kind of took my eye off the ball," Wong said.
The runners eventually scored on an RBI single by Garrett Weber and a ground out by Justin Charles.
Slaats got into trouble in the sixth when he gave up a lead-off single to Jordan Ribera, walked Robinson and hit Garrison to load the bases. He got Weber to ground into a double play that scored a run, but gave up an RBI double to Steve Detwiler.
"I was rushing through the balance point a little bit," Slaats said. "I was struggling with command. That was basically the issue early."
The Rainbows didn't get the relief it needed. Jesse Moore gave up a two-run home run to Robinson with two outs in the seventh that made it 7-1. Freshman Trent Allianic pitched a scoreless eighth, but hit a batter, walked another and gave up an RBI single to Detwiler in the ninth to cushion the Bulldogs' margin.
Those add-on runs plus the offense's inability to capitalize early is what hurt the Rainbows.
"We competed all game," Trapasso said. "We'll compete to the last out. These guys believe the game's in grasp until the last out's made. But we didn't play well enough and that's disappointing. We can't put ourselves in a position where we're down four, five runs every game. It starts with the guys on the mound and gotta make something happen. We have to score some runs early in the game."
The series resumes with a doubleheader at 3:05 p.m. today. Zach Gallagher will start the opener with Sam Spangler in the seven-inning nightcap for UH. Fresno State will start Matt Morse (2-3) in the opener, but coach Mike Batesole said he hasn't determined his second-game starter.