'Bows rally past Falcons
• Photo gallery: Hawaii-Air Force baseball Sunday
By Stacy Kaneshiro
Advertiser Staff Writer
On a day when its pitching struggled, Hawai'i performed just well enough to allow its batters to rally from an early 4-0 deficit to a 9-5 win against Air Force yesterday.
The Rainbows (10-9) won their third in a row before 1,527 at Les Murakami Stadium with a chance for their first series sweep tonight against the Falcons (5-15).
"Wasn't pretty, but we're not about being pretty," UH coach Mike Trapasso said. "We just want to be pretty good."
Matt Roquemore was just that, batting 3 for 5 in the lead-off spot. He ignited a six-run third with a lead-off single and scored the first run, then came to bat again and delivered a two-run single that put the Rainbows ahead for good, 6-4.
"He's definitely stepped up and he'll be out there tomorrow," Trapasso said of the left fielder.
"I was happy to come out today, got an opportunity to play," said Roquemore, a fifth-year senior who graduated with a sociology degree last May. "I was happy to help us out any way that I could, whether defensively, offensively."
The offensive support was appreciated by UH starter Alex Capaul, who could not command his off-speed pitches. It was a Jekyll-Hyde outing for the junior right-hander. He allowed four runs, five hits and a wild pitch in his first 2[0xb0] innings. After giving up a two-run single to Addison Gentry that made it 4-0 in the top of the third, Capaul retired the next 11 batters.
"I found it in the later half of my outing," said Capaul, who went 6[0xb0] innings, allowing five runs and seven hits with three strikeouts. "I just had to work with what I had. I was able to locate my off-speed better than in my first three innings."
With a 6-4 lead, Capaul got into a jam in the seventh, when Ben Ausbun led off with a single and, an out later, took second on Nathan Carter's single. That's when Trapasso brought in closer Lenny Linsky to defuse the threat. He nearly did. Linsky got Matthew Roberts to ground to first for a force at second, but the relay back to Linsky covering first just missed making it a double play.
Blake Roberts, who was 4 for 5, then grounded an RBI single to make it 6-5. But Linsky retired Garrett Custons on a harmless grounder to first to end the inning and preserve the lead.
The Rainbows insured their lead with three runs in the bottom of the seventh after being held scoreless by Alex Baker between the fourth though sixth inning.
With Kolten Wong at bat, Andrew Loyd threw an errant ball four that rolled to the backstop. Wong sprinted out of the batter's box and headed to second, where he was tagged but ruled safe when the infielder covering the bag lost control of the ball.
"I was just trying to be aggressive and try to get in better position so my teammates can score me," Wong said. "It was kind of a dumb play on my part, but it worked out well for us. That's all that matters."
It was big as far as igniting the three-run inning. Wong took third on a balk with David Freitas at the plate. Knowing a balk was called, Freitas alertly swung (and missed) anyway.
"It was a free swing," said Freitas, who would have been able to take the more favorable outcome should he have gotten a hit. (The balk nullified the pitch.)
Freitas' sacrifice fly to right got the run back that UH gave up in the top half of the inning. Collin Bennett followed with a solo homer to right-center to make it 8-5.
Christian Johnson drew a walk before Loyd was pulled for Matt Zettler, who walked Pi'ikea Kitamura and Easton Torigoe to load the bases. Kevin Fujii hit a grounder to third for a force at home, but the catcher's relay to first for a double-play attempt was wild, allowing Kitamura to score.
Linsky allowed a walk and four hits the next two innings, but was aided by double plays in each to keep the Falcons off the board.
"It was a struggle for us all day," Trapasso said. "Lenny wasn't sharp either, but he battled through it."
Linsky had pitched an inning Saturday and once he was used yesterday, Trapasso knew he would not be able to pitch him in tonight's series finale.
"Once we brought him in, I wasn't going to bring him back three days in a row, so I figured let's just get him extended," Trapasso said. "I brought him in in the seventh. I don't care if you're a closer or not, you can lose a game in the seventh the way the situation was. I was just hoping he could get us out of the jam with the lead still intact then worry about the eighth and ninth later. He got the job done."
Besides Roquemore, Wong and Freitas each had two RBIs. Wong's came on a two-run triple in the six-run third. Freitas had an RBI single in that inning.
Air Force starter Sean Carley (1-2) allowed six runs, seven hits and four walks in two-plus innings.
Meanwhile, UH first baseman Kevin Macdonald remained sidelined after twisting his ankle covering the bag in Friday's game. He saw a 79-game starting streak snapped when he did not start Saturday night. Trapasso said Macdonald is not likely to play tonight and might miss Wednesday's game at Long Beach State.
"But Friday, he should be all right" for the three-game series at Cal State Fullerton, Trapasso said.