Capaul gives 'Bows boost
• Photo gallery: Hawaii vs. Fresno State baseball Sunday
By Stacy Kaneshiro
Advertiser Staff Writer
Junior Alex Capaul could not have picked a better time to have the best outing of his Hawai'i career.
The right-hander tossed his first complete game and shutout, and matched a career high of five strikeouts to beat Fresno State, 4-0, yesterday and help UH avoid a four-game Western Athletic Conference sweep.
A crowd of 2,623 at Les Murakami Stadium saw the resilient Rainbows (17-15 overall, 1-3 WAC) rebound from a doubleheader sweep on Saturday — including getting no-hit — to snap the Bulldogs' seven-game win streak. Capaul was pressed into a start, his second of the season, because of injuries to Matt Sisto and Nate Klein.
"For the biggest game of his career, doing it in the circumstance we're in — coming off of a no-hitter, down 3-0 in the opening weekend (of WAC play) — I told our guys regardless of what happens today, we still have 20 conference games left," UH coach Mike Trapasso said.
"There's no panic. We're a good club. We're going to be a factor in this league before it's all said and done, if we just play our game and we hang in there until we get to full strength."
Capaul (5-1) gave UH what only Sam Spangler could in the series: a quality start. Capaul scattered seven hits and faced just three batters over the minimum. It wasn't until the ninth that a Bulldog runner reached third. With runners at second and third, Capaul struck out Bobby Coyle to end the game on his 99th pitch.
(Spangler pitched a three-hitter in Saturday's 1-0 loss when the 'Bows were no-hit by Greg Gonzalez.)
"It's something every pitcher wants to do," Capaul said of his ninth career start. "It can't top the performance last night (by Gonzalez), but it's fun to do."
Batterymate David Freitas had the best view of Capaul's performance against a team picked to win the WAC for a fifth consecutive year and only WAC team projected to earn a regional berth.
"He was on his game," Freitas said. "He was hitting his spots, getting his off-speed over. He definitely had his stuff today."
Though Capaul got into a bit of jam in the ninth after retiring the first two batters, he reached back to strike out Coyle.
"It was a situation where he was still making good pitches," Trapasso said. "He really had a lot left in the tank in the end, which shows how he was able to stay within himself throughout the game. He never really over threw until the last couple of hitters. He had good sink, good life (on his pitches) going away from their lefties. That's why he was able to get a lot of ground balls (14 grounders that led to outs) today."
Capaul got the backing of his defense, which turned three double plays. Second baseman Kolten Wong made a diving stop of a grounder up the middle by Coyle, flipped the ball to shortstop Greg Garcia, who fired to first for the seventh-inning double play.
"Alex came in and did his job," Wong said. "Fresno's a real good hitting team. To go out there and give us what he did, it's amazing and it's a blessing for us to have him."
The Hawai'i bats didn't wait around either, jumping on FSU starter Charlie Robertson for four runs in 3[0xb0] innings. Robertson gave up eight hits and three walks.
Garcia singled with one out in the bottom of the first. Robertson then walked Wong and Freitas on four pitches each to load the bases and set up Collin Bennet's two-run single.
In the second with one out, Matt Roquemore and Garcia each singled, and Wong followed with another single to make it 3-0.
Wong ignited the Rainbows in the fourth when he drew a one-out walk, prompting FSU coach Mike Batesole to pull Robertson for Cody Kendall. Wong stole second and advanced to third on Freitas' deep flyout to right. After Bennett and Christian Johnson walked to load the bases, Wong scored on a wild pitch to make it 4-0.
"It's something we haven't been able to do this weekend," Trapasso said of scoring early. "To get a lead early helped (Capaul) relax and just make good pitches."
The game was officially a sellout with 4,417 tickets issued. It was the first series this season in which every date saw at least 2,000 entering the turnstile. The turnstile series average was 2,633, beating out the Southern California series that averaged 2,538.
The Rainbows' next eight conference games will be at Sacramento State starting Friday, then at Louisiana Tech. Those series sandwich a non-conference game at Centenary.