No. 25 Oregon, UH split pair
• Photo gallery: Oregon-Hawaii baseball Feb. 28
By Stacy Kaneshiro
Advertiser Staff Writer
What a difference an Oregon team makes for Hawai'i.
The Rainbows got strong pitching all around and solid defense to take the four-game series, 3-1, after splitting a doubleheader with Oregon yesterday before 1,024 at Les Murakami Stadium.
The Rainbows (4-4) took the opener, 5-2 and dropped the scheduled seven-inning nightcap, 3-0, to the Ducks (4-4), who entered the series ranked 25th by Collegiate Baseball.
Last weekend, the Rainbows lost 3 of 4 to the Oregon State Beavers and didn't play especially well.
"Anytime you take three of four from a ranked opponent, you have to feel good about it," UH coach Mike Trapasso said. "I feel good about the way we played, compared to last weekend. I was disappointed with how we played last weekend (against Oregon State). Overall, I'm pleased with how we played this weekend."
The doubleheader was necessary when Saturday's game was postponed because of the tsunami warning initiated by an earthquake in Chile. The Ducks voluntarily evacuated their Waikīkī hotel and spent the day at Murakami Stadium.
"To salvage one game I think was very important, getting on that long plane ride home and maybe get some momentum going after dropping the first three," Oregon coach George Horton said.
The opener was like the first two games of the series for the Rainbows, who got strong pitching. Starter Josh Slaats allowed a run, four hits and a walk with four strikeouts, but could only muster 4[0xb0] innings.
But Alex Capaul (2-0) followed with four strong innings, allowing a run and three hits with three strikeouts. He gave way to Lenny Linsky with runners at first and second and one out in the ninth. Linsky got Curtis Raulinaitis to pop out to third and K.C. Serna to ground to second for a force at second to end the game and notch his third save in as many appearances.
"I thought our bullpen was exceptional," Trapasso said. "We gotta continue to get good outings out of Lenny. Capaul, I thought, was outstanding today again."
Oregon starter Scott McGough allowed two runs in 5[0xb0] innings in the opener. One run scored on a third-inning balk and the other on David Freitas' first career home run at UH, a solo shot to left in the sixth.
McGough got the start because Ducks' scheduled starter Christian Jones had a sore back, Horton said.
But the Ducks tied it in the seventh on Raulinaitis' RBI single off Capaul.
But the Rainbows hit Ryan Fleckenstein (0-1) for three runs in the bottom of the seventh. Greg Garcia, who was 3 for 5, singled home Breland Almadova, who led off the inning with a double, to give UH a 3-2 lead. Later Collin Bennett's RBI double off Madison Boer and Freitas' sacrifice fly to center made it 5-2.
"It was good for us to get a win that game," Garcia said. "That's all you really care about out here is putting up Ws in the column. Unfortunately, we weren't able to get that second one today, but coming out 3 of 4 from a team like that is good for us."
In the nightcap, Zach Thornton (1-0) and Drew Gagnier combined on a two-hitter to avoid the sweep.
Thornton went 5 2/3 innings, allowing a single and double to Bennett, while walking two and striking out five. Gagnier hit a batter in 1[0xb0] scoreless innings for his first save.
The Ducks did all their damage in a three-run fourth, all with two outs against UH starter Sam Spangler (0-2), who lasted just 3 2/3 innings, allowing five hits and two walks with four strikeouts.
With two out, Shawn Peterson singled and went to second on Jett Hart's single. Spangler then hit Serna with a pitch to load the bases. He then walked Danny Pulfer to force in a run. Spangler was pulled for Connor Little, who hit Jack Marder with a pitch to plate another run and then threw a wild pitch to score the third run.
Little got out of a sixth-inning jam thanks to an inning-ending double play that involved two-thirds of the UH fielders. With one out and a runner at third, Serna hit a grounder to short and pinch runner Marcus Piazzisi was tagged out after a run down between third and home. UH also tagged out Serna after a run down between second and third. The only Rainbow fielders not involved in the run downs were the left fielder, center fielder and pitcher.
"That was a crazy play," said Trapasso, adding he was pleased with this weekend's defensive play.
The Rainbows return to action Thursday to begin a four-game series with The Citadel (5-1). The series includes a rare Friday doubleheader scheduled for 3:35 p.m. and a noon start for Saturday's getaway game.