Trojans stop Rainbows
• Photo gallery: UH vs. USC baseball Saturday
By Wes Nakama
Advertiser Staff Writer
University of Southern California right-hander Ben Mount pitched a five-hitter with eight strikeouts and no walks and the Trojans capitalized on two seventh-inning errors by Hawai'i last night in a 3-1 nonconference baseball victory.
A near-capacity crowd of 3,893 — the season's first sellout at Les Murakami Stadium — watched USC even the four-game series at one game apiece and improve to 7-8, while the Rainbows fell to 7-7.
Mount, a 6-foot-8 sophomore, allowed only one runner past first base and retired 14 of the last 16 batters he faced.
"I was just staying down in the zone and hacking away," Mount said. "I knew it would be a tight game, and my goal from the beginning was to go to the end and help us win."
The Trojans broke a 1-1 tie with one out in the top of the seventh inning, when Matt Foat hit an opposite-field drive that sent UH right fielder Christian Johnson crashing into the wall. Johnson popped up and ran after the ball but slipped and fell as he approached it, allowing Foat to round third base and slide home safely just ahead of catcher David Freitas' tag.
"It went off my glove, so I definitely should have had it," Johnson said of Foat's line drive. "It was pretty wet out there, but that's no excuse. USC had to play under the same conditions, and they just beat us."
After Rainbows starter Sam Spangler got his career-high 11th strikeout, Cade Kreuter lined a single to center. Adam Landecker singled to left, sending Kreuter to third. Hawai'i shortstop Greg Garcia's relay throw home, however, sailed to the backstop, allowing Kreuter to score and make it 3-1.
"That error wasn't really Garcia's, though, it was an error on Sam," UH coach Mike Trapasso said. "He wasn't where he was supposed to be, backing up the throw."
That ended an otherwise solid night for Spangler, who went 6 2/3 innings and gave up two earned runs on seven hits and no walks.
"Those two plays (in the seventh inning) weren't the story of this game, Ben Mount was the story," Trapasso said. "We just couldn't get anything going against him. Both pitchers took advantage of a liberal strike zone and spotted up well. It was a tough night for both offenses, and I feel bad for Sam because he deserved better."
The Trojans took a 1-0 lead in the first inning after Garrett Houts singled to left field with one out, stole second and scored on Foat's double into the gap in right-center.
The Rainbows tied it in the fifth, after Freitas led off with a single to left, advanced to third on Collin Bennett's single to right and scored as Kevin Macdonald hit into a 4-6-3 double play.
Hawai'i broke open a close game Friday night with four runs in each of the seventh and eighth innings, hitting especially well against Southern Cal's bullpen. But the Rainbows never got that far against Mount.
"Any time a guy is throwing that well, you want to try and get him out of the game," Trapasso said. "But he would have none of it. He held us in check the whole way."
Mount said he used mostly fastballs in getting ahead in the count before finishing off with the occasional change-up or breaking ball.
"I saw early on the umpire was giving us a couple inches off the paint, so I was trying to attack the corners with my fastball," Mount said. "Last night we lost our focus a little at the end of the game, so tonight we definitely wanted to finish strong."
The series continues today with a 1:05 p.m. game. Trapasso said UH will start sophomore right-hander Matt Sisto (1-2), while the Trojans are expected to go with senior right-hander Kevin Couture (0-0).
Trapasso said the Rainbows' starter Friday night, senior Nate Klein, underwent an MRI exam yesterday on his right (pitching) shoulder, with results expected to be unveiled tomorrow. Klein left Friday's game with two outs in the top of the second inning after injuring the shoulder.
"He was feeling better today and we'll see what the doctor says on Monday," Trapasso said. "It doesn't look too serious, and we should know more about him and (injured right-hander Josh) Slaats by then."
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