UH rides Slaats' right arm to 4-0 victory
• Photo gallery: UH Baseball Saturday
By Stacy Kaneshiro
Advertiser Staff Writer
Returning to the mound after missing a start last weekend, Josh Slaats picked up where he left off — putting up zeroes — to help Hawai'i beat Air Force, 4-0, last night.
Slaats (2-0) threw 5 1/3 scoreless innings, allowing three hits and striking out a career-high 10, doubling his previous best last year against Mississippi State.
"It felt good," said Slaats, who pitched UH's other shutout, 9-0, against The Citadel on March 5. "I missed last week so it was nice to be back out there."
Slaats missed his start last week against Southern California with a tender elbow. In the sixth inning last night, Matthew Roberts and Blair Roberts reached on back-to-back singles and advanced into scoring position on Garrett Custons' sacrifice. That's when coach Mike Trapasso pulled Slaats, who was at 75 pitches.
"He wanted me to be able to recover for next week," Slaats said. "I was right at the pitch maximum, so he had to take me out."
Said Trapasso: "I didn't feel comfortable with him going over 80 (pitches). I told him, 'You're at 75 and we have two lefties coming up and you've thrown great and you're going to leave this game feeling good about how you threw and how you feel.' That's real important."
Slaats walked Roberts, the first batter of the game, then retired the next nine before hitting Roberts with a pitch with two outs in the third. He allowed only one hit over the next two innings before running into trouble in the sixth.
"The slider was really effective today," Slaats said. "That was a good pitch for me. I think they had trouble seeing it maybe."
Slaats got help from Blair Walters, who preserved the shutout when he struck out two batters after inheriting the runners in the sixth. Lenny Linsky added a scoreless ninth.
"He did a great job against the lefties," Trapasso said of the left-handed Walters.
Walters said he got the left-handed hitting Addison Gentry and Matt Alexander to strike out on curves.
"I like that kind of excitement," Walters said of entering the game with runners in scoring position. "I knew I had to get out of there without giving up any runs and keep us in the lead."
A Les Murakami Stadium crowd of 2,516 watched the Rainbows (9-9) scratch for runs against Alex Truesdale (1-3), who went the distance, allowing four runs (three earned), eight hits and a walk with a career-high 12 strikeouts for the Falcons (5-14).
"It was a well-pitched game," Trapasso said. "It's no small feat to shut those guys out. They can really swing the bat. (Truesdale) did a nice job. He's a three-pitch mix guy. He just rolled the changeup and we didn't make the adjustments."
The Rainbows got on the board in the fourth when Collin Bennett doubled with one out and, one out later, scored on Pi'ikea Kitamura's single.
In the fifth, UH scored another run with the aid of two Air Force errors.
UH boosted its lead in the eighth on a booming, two-run homer to right-center by Kolten Wong.
"That was a big home run, just to give us some separation," Trapasso said.
Easton Torigoe started at first base for the injured Kevin Macdonald (ankle), who is still day-to-day, Trapasso said.
Making his first career start last night was red-shirt freshman Chase Koissian, who played right field and went 0 for 3.
The series resumes at 1:05 p.m. today.