Grand slam spurs UH to rout of Air Force
• Photo gallery: Hawaii vs. Air Force baseball
By Stacy Kaneshiro
Advertiser Staff Writer
Opportunities are few and far between for sophomore reserve first baseman Easton Torigoe.
But last night, his first hit of the season — a fifth-inning grand slam — rallied Hawai'i past Air Force, 15-6, last night in the opener of the nonconference four-game series before 1,660 at Les Murakami Stadium.
The Rainbows (8-9) trailed 4-2 when Torigoe hammered relief pitcher Alex Baker's first offering to right to put UH ahead, 6-4. Torigoe replaced starting first baseman Kevin Macdonald to start the third inning. Macdonald twisted his ankle when Garrett Custons reached on a bunt single to third in the top of the first inning.
"I just hit it," Torigoe said. "I didn't see it. I just started running."
"What can you say?" UH coach Mike Trapasso said. "You talk so much about guys being ready when your opportunity comes. This is a night Easton's going to be remembering 30 years from now. It was special for him and special for us in getting us going. Sam (Spangler) wasn't throwing well. We get behind early. Then, 'Boom,' it opens the flood gates for us."
Macdonald, who had singled in the bottom of the second, had started all 17 games this season. He twisted the ankle when he put his foot on the bag. Trapasso said Macdonald's status is day-to-day.
The good news is that Josh Slaats will be able to start tonight's game, Trapasso said. Alex Capaul and Matt Sisto will pitch the next two games, respectively.
Spangler (2-3) labored through his five innings, allowing four runs, five hits and three walks with six strikeouts in a game the Rainbows needed their starter to last longer, given the injury statuses of their pitchers.
"He wasn't good," Trapasso said. "He wanted to stay out there, but he had no command. He was out of sync. He couldn't throw anything anywhere near we were trying."
But Jesse Moore finished up the final four innings, allowing two runs, two hits and a walk with a strikeout for his first save.
"Jesse, I thought, was the big story, just settling things," Trapasso said. "He threw strikes. He threw his breaking ball for strikes. He put up a couple of big zeros when we needed it."
Air Force's Baker (0-3) allowed just two runs in 1 1/3 innings, as he inherited two of starting pitcher Kincaid Koehler's runners. Koehler allowed four runs in 4 1/3 innings.
But UH found itself down 4-1 before sending nine batters to the plate in the five-run fifth. David Freitas' sacrifice foul fly to right pulled UH to 4-2 before Collin Bennett was hit by a pitch to load the bases to set up Torigoe's slam.
It was a big moment for Torigoe, who entered the game 0 for 2. During spring workouts, he said he was in a slump at the plate.
"I think I was thinking a bit too much," said Torigoe, an all-state first baseman at Mid-Pacific Institute. "I was putting too much pressure (on myself)."
So excited, Torigoe sprinted around the bases.
"I really didn't grasp (the moment) until I got home," Torigoe said.
Kolten Wong drove in three runs with a double when the Rainbows sent 12 batters to the plate in a seven-run seventh. Bennett's two-run homer ignited the inning.
Freshman left fielder Kalani Brackenridge led the Rainbows with three hits, including a double. Jeffrey Van Doornum and Greg Garcia each had two hits for the Rainbows.
The series resumes at 6:35 tonight.