Spangler silences The Citadel
• Photo gallery: UH baseball
By Stacy Kaneshiro
Advertiser Staff Writer
The back end of Hawai'i's pitching is looking like frontliners for the near future.
Left-hander Sam Spangler turned in his best performance of the season to help knock off The Citadel, 13-1, yesterday as the Rainbows salvaged a split of the four-game series in front of 1,175 at Les Murakami Stadium.
The 'Bows (6-6) got strong pitching for the second game in a row against the Bulldogs (7-3), who took the first two games of the series by scores of 12-8 and 9-5 with 14 and 13 hits, respectively.
Friday night, Josh Slaats fired a two-hitter in a 9-0 seven-inning win. Yesterday, Spangler (1-2) went a season-high seven innings, allowing a first-inning run, seven hits and three walks with three strikeouts. Jesse Moore and Lenny Linsky each tagged on a scoreless inning of relief.
"That was a big game for our guys today," UH coach Mike Trapasso said. "(Our players) showed some character to bounce back and even up the series. That's a good club (The Citadel). Those guys are going to score a ton of runs and they've got some outstanding arms in their rotation."
Spangler was backed by an 18-hit attack and strong fielding. Sean Montplaisir, batting leadoff, went 3 for 4 with three runs and Kolten Wong went 3 for 3 with two runs and two walks.
The cleanup spot was 1 for 10 in the first three games and yesterday's cleanup hitter, David Freitas, was 0 for 3 before depositing Michael Clevinger's fastball on the street beyond right-center for a three-run home run in a five-run sixth.
"It felt good," Freitas said. "The wind was playing to right today so, I had to work with it."
"I hope he broke that curse with that home run," Trapasso said in reference to his team's struggles at the cleanup spot in the order.
Jeffrey Van Doornum hit a two-out, solo home run in the second that tied the score at 1.
The Rainbows kept the pressure by scoring in four of the next six innings. Clevinger (1-2) was tagged for 10 runs and 12 hits. He walked one and struck out two in 5 2/3 innings.
"The defense made a lot of nice plays," Spangler said. "They helped me out big time. The offense was amazing. They scored a ton of runs."
But it was Spangler who set the tone. Trapasso said in the past Spanger would get out of rhythm and have a tough time recovering. But not yesterday.
"He found it quickly," Trapasso said. "He would make that pitch that would sail on him, but he'd come back in the zone with a good pitch. He had good stuff. He struggled a little bit with his offspeed, but at times when he really needed one, he was able to get it done. Outside of that, we really used his off-speed for show."
After Nick Orvin led off the game with a double and scored on David Greene's two-out single, Spangler never was in any real danger in the ensuing innings until the sixth, when he walked William Ladd with one out and gave up a single to Greene, who was 4 for 4, that put runners at the corners. That prompted a visit from Trapasso.
"The pitch before (he went to visit Spangler) we were trying to go in and (the pitch) was almost away and the guy sent it to right-center for base hit," Trapasso said. "I had to remind him, if we're going in we have to go in."
Spangler's performance was a big step because he was slowed by a tender shoulder, putting him behind the other starters in terms of endurance. In his previous starts, he had a lower pitch count ceiling than the others. Yesterday, he threw 90 pitches or about 10 more than his previous ceilings.
"It feels strong," Spangler said. "I'm just building my strength back up. I was able to get to 90 pitches today so hopefully I can get up to 100 pitches next weekend."
With short breaks between the last two series, UH stayed in its same rotation with Nate Klein, Matt Sisto, Slaats and Spangler. But with its next series against Southern California starting Friday, Trapasso is considering some changes.
The Rainbows also went with another different starting lineup with CJ Johnson starting in right field and batting eighth, and Montplaisir batting leadoff for the second time in three games.
"We'll keep shuffling things around because we have options," Trapasso said.
Freshman Kalani Brackenridge and sophomore pitcher/shortstop Jesse Moore each had pinch-hit singles for the first hits of their UH careers.