'Bows rally by Trojans
• Photo gallery: UH vs. USC baseball Friday
By Ferd Lewis
Advertiser Staff Writer
When University of Hawai'i pitcher Nate Klein looked at his right shoulder and grimaced in the second inning last night, he was not alone among a Les Murakami Stadium crowd of 2,815.
Indeed, with the previously scheduled starter, Josh Slaats, already sidelined with a sore elbow, "I'm thinking, 'Wow, what else can go wrong now?'" recalled coach Mike Trapasso.
Enter relief pitcher Alex Capaul whose solid 5 1/3 innings of one-run relief soothed the anxieties and kept Southern California in check long enough for the Rainbows to rally for an 8-2 victory in the opener of a four-game series.
Back-to-back, four-run surges in the seventh and eighth innings lifted the 'Bows to a 7-6 record, but it was 7 1/3 innings of one-run relief pitching, the most crucial portion an 81-pitch effort by Capaul, the eventual winning pitcher, that told the tale of this three-hour saga.
"Alex was the story of this one," Trapasso said. Even if it hardly looked like a storybook beginning. With two outs and Matt Hart on second base in the second inning, Klein, Trapasso said, "said he felt something right on top of the shoulder two pitches in a row."
Capaul came in and immediately yielded a run-scoring single to Kevin Roundtree but then worked out of trouble and gave up just one run of his own in the fifth inning.
It took until the seventh inning for the 'Bows, who had not gotten a runner past second base, to get to the Trojans' commanding starting 6-foot-4 inch starting pitcher, Andrew Triggs, with four runs fashioned around three errors and two bases on balls.
Greg Garcia singled, Kolten Wong reached base on a fielding error and David Freitas got on board on Triggs' throwing error to load the bases. Then, Collin Bennett had what might have been the key at-bat for the 'Bows. Down no balls and two strikes in the count to Triggs, Bennett fouled off a couple of pitches and worked it to a walk to force in a run.
Kevin Macdonald also drew a bases-loaded walk. Christian Johnson's two-out comebacker to the mound was thrown over the catcher's head by Triggs to permit two more runners to score and give the 'Bows a lead they never lost.
Four more runs in the eighth, two of them coming on Bennett's two-run double, allowed the 'Bows to pull Capaul's successor, Lenny Linsky, after a scoreless inning of relief and save him for additional duty later in the series.
"They obviously helped us out," Trapasso said. "Sometimes, you have to save games. And, sometimes you have to steal them."
Last night, Capaul aided and abetted the later.
UH coach Mike Trapasso said pitcher Josh Slaats underwent an MRI yesterday and might be available later in the series. "He might throw a little (today) and see how he feels," Trapasso said.
UH announced that fewer than 400 tickets remain for tonight's 6:35 p.m. game. A limited number of standing room-only tickets will be put on sale after the stadium's capacity is sold out, UH said.
USC leads the series 26-25.