'Bows complete trip with 8-6 win
Hawai'i held off San Diego, 8-6, yesterday at Cunningham Stadium in San Diego to complete a winning road trip against perennial West Coast powers.
The Rainbows (14-11) ended their first road trip of the season at 3-2 against teams expected to contend in their respective conferences. They opened with a win at Long Beach Beach, took the last game of a three-game series at Cal State Fullerton, both predicted as regional selections from the Big West by Baseball America. The Toreros (14-12) were picked to win the West Coast Conference.
"That was a big win for us," UH coach Mike Trapasso said. "To have a winning trip against three teams of caliber — Long Beach, Fullerton and San Diego — to come away 3-2, that's a great trip for us."
Christian Johnson provided the big punch for the Rainbows, hitting a sixth-inning grand slam to break a 1-all game.
It was a big day for Punahou alumnus Zach Kometani, who went 3 for 4 with two home runs for San Diego. He was one of three Toreros to get three hits. San Diego tallied 16 hits, but committed four errors, accounting for three unearned runs.
As always, it begins on the mound for UH. On four days' rest, Zach Gallagher (2-1) — who didn't figure to be a starter at the outset of the season — pitched six-plus innings, allowing three runs, 11 hits and two walks with two strikeouts.
"He was good," Trapasso said. "He had good command, particularly of his fastball and curveball. Toward the end, we started mixing up some changeups."
Gallagher allowed a double and triple to start the seventh before giving way to Connor Little with a 6-2 lead. Little allowed a hit that brought in the third run charged to Gallagher before striking out Kometani to end the inning.
But when Little walked the lead-off batter in the eighth, Trapasso brought in Lenny Linsky, who used 30 pitches in 2 2/3 innings the day before to save UH's only win at Cal State Fullerton. Historically, that's Trapasso's threshold that would require a rest day for a pitcher. With UH leading 8-3 and a runner on, it was not a save situation for Linsky, but nonetheless a critical one.
"I didn't want to bring him in in the eighth," Trapasso said. "But he came up to me before the game and said he felt great and no problem at all. Thirty pitches is right in that area where I start looking at giving a guy a day off. But he was great. He was getting a little bit tired at the end."
Linsky eventually allowed Little's walk to score on a single in the eighth. In the ninth, it got a bit exciting, when he allowed a two-run home run to Kometani that pulled the Toreros to within two. (He also homered in the fourth to tie it at 1.) Victor Sanchez then doubled before Linsky struck out pinch hitter Scott Schauer and retired Bryan Haar on a grounder to short to end the game.
The game was tied at 1 after five when the Rainbows took the lead. Kolten Wong led off with a single off Matt Thompson. An out later, Wong stole second before Collin Bennett drew a walk after a nine-pitch plate appearance. Kevin Macdonald walked to load the bases. An out later, Johnson drilled his grand slam to put UH ahead, 5-1.
"He crushed that pitch," Trapasso said. "That got us going."
The Rainbows added a run in the seventh to take a 6-1 lead. But the Toreros scored twice in the bottom of the seventh to cut their deficit to three runs.
The Rainbows answered with two in the eighth to make it 8-3, only to see the Toreros score one in the bottom of the inning to cut their deficit to four.
"We grinded it out," Trapasso said. "It was a good win for us. Every time they would score to cut into our lead, we answered back right away."