LaTech rolls to 14-6 win over UH
Mark Threlkeld drove in five runs with two home runs — including a grand slam that sparked an eight-run sixth inning — to lead Louisiana Tech over Hawai'i, 14-6, yesterday.
The victory allowed the Bulldogs (21-18, 6-6) to salvage a split of the four-game Western Athletic Conference series.
The Rainbows (21-20 overall, 4-8 WAC), who remain last in the seven-team conference, saw their 6-5 lead disappear when the Bulldogs sent 12 batters to the plate in the sixth to turn a close game into a rout at J.C. Love Field at Pat Patterson Park in Ruston, La.
Despite the loss, UH coach Mike Trapasso said he is optimistic about the second half of the WAC's 24-game season because of the team's "toughness" it displayed in Saturday's 14-13 win.
"I told the team I'm feeling an optimism now that I haven't felt in a month in how we played yesterday and today, as far as our toughness, as far as our energy," Trapasso said.
Trapasso also likes how his pitching is building up. Nate Klein made his first start since March 12, when he left the Southern California game after 1 2/3 innings because of tenderness in his shoulder. Despite getting rocked for nine runs in 5 1/3 innings yesterday, Klein (1-1) was better than his numbers indicated.
"From the third inning on, (Klein) was sharp," Trapasso said. "He just ran out of gas. He threw 76 pitches. A couple starts from now, he's going to be at full strength."
Trapasso said he is pleased with the way Josh Slaats and Sam Spangler have been pitching. He has pegged Slaats for Friday's series opener at home against Nevada. Spangler will start Saturday's first game and Klein the seven-inning second game. Sunday's starter will be determined.
"I feel we'll have the deepest rotation in the league," Trapasso said.
Trapasso also likes the remainer of the schedule with home series against Nevada this weekend and New Mexico State May 13 to 15. The Rainbows close on the road with a non-conference game at Stanford and the last WAC series at San Jose State. Les Murakami Stadium and the two road sites are more pitcher-friendly.
"We play the rest of our games in bigger parks," Trapasso said. "We play in legit parks the rest of the way."
Yesterday's game was close early with leads changing five times before it all rolled the Bulldogs' way in the sixth inning. Klein was pulled with outs in the sixth after giving up an RBI single and his third walk. Zach Gallagher couldn't escape the bases-loaded jam he inherited, as pinch hitter Ashton Hughes reached on a seeing-eye single past first. An out later, Threlkeld hit his grand slam. Gallagher then gave up back-to-back doubles before being lifted for Jesse Moore, who yielded an RBI single before getting the last out of the inning.
"We just have to play better and today was just a situation where one guy couldn't get it done out of the bullpen," Trapasso said. "Gallagher couldn't make pitches down in the zone."
The Rainbows hit three home runs. Collin Bennett's solo shot in the second was followed by a walk to Greg Garcia and Kevin Macdonald's two-run homer that put UH ahead 3-2.
The Bulldogs regained the lead with two runs in the bottom of the second, but the Rainbows tied it in the third on Jeffrey Van Doornum's solo home run.
Threlkeld led off the third with a solo homer that gave Tech a 5-4 lead before UH tied it in the fourth on Matt Roquemore's RBI single and took a 6-5 lead in fifth with the aid of two errors and an RBI groundout by Bennett.
Tech starter Mike Jefferson departed after 5 2/3 innings, having allowed six runs (five earned), eight hits and four walks with two strikeouts. Relief pitcher Dan Breazeale was the beneficiary of the eight-run sixth inning. Breazeale (1-0) held UH scoreless in the last 3 1/3 innings, scattering two hits, while striking out four.
Van Doornum enjoyed an incredible series, batting 9 for 17 with four home runs and six RBIs. His eight homers lead the team.