Rainbows sweep past New Mexico State
• Photo gallery: Hawaii sweeps New Mexico State double header
By Stacy Kaneshiro
Advertiser Staff Writer
Jeffrey Van Doornum's lead-off home run in the bottom of the eighth inning lifted Hawai'i over New Mexico State, 2-1, last night to complete a Western Athletic Conference doubleheader sweep.
Van Doornum hit a two-run homer two weeks ago against Nevada to cap a five-run ninth in a 10-9 win. Last night, he drilled a 1-1 offering from Scott Coffman to break a 1-all game in the scheduled seven-inning second game.
The Rainbows (26-22 overall, 9-10 WAC) won the opener, 7-3.
"It's a great feeling," said Van Doornum of his team-leading 10th homer of the season. "Winning two games right there is crucial."
What his home run did was preserve the second of two outstanding pitched games by the Rainbows against one of the deadliest offenses in the country in the Aggies (35-18-1, 13-8-1), who have dropped seven in a row.
The wins keep the fifth-place Rainbows within striking distance of the top two spots in the WAC tournament with five conference games left.
In the opener, Sam Spangler struck out a career-high 13 in 5 2/3 innings. Jesse Moore struck out four more in the final 3 1/3 for his fourth save. The combined 17 strikeouts were the most against the Aggies this season.
In the nightcap, Matt Sisto and Lenny Linsky combined on a two-hitter in eight innings, the fewest hits NMSU's offense has been limited to all season. The Aggies entered the series with a .360 team batting average.
"That's really impressive when you consider it's against the nation's leading offense," UH coach Mike Trapasso said of holding the Aggies to four runs in 17 innings last night. "Our guys really pitched well today. We played well. We executed well. We played good defense overall. I think only a couple of the runs were earned.
"It's big day for us, obviously. We needed that. The kids answered the bell."
In the nail-biting nightcap, Sisto and NMSU's Dan Reid engaged in a pitching duel before 2,089 at Les Murakami Stadium.
Sisto said he was able to locate his fastball, curveball and changeup.
"I was just successful in throwing the ball down tonight," said Sisto, who walked two and struck out six. "Sam (Spangler) and I knew if we threw strikes because we knew they'd take a lot (of pitches), we knew we'd be successful."
Sisto had walked his second batter and had two outs in the sixth when he was lifted after falling behind 1-0 on cleanup hitter Leo Aguirre. Linsky retired Aguirre on a grounder and added two more scoreless innings to keep the game tied at 1 to set up Van Doornum's homer to right center.
"Hanging slider," the right-handed hitting Van Doornum said of the pitch he hit. "It was up and away, so I just took it that way. It felt pretty good off the bat. I'm just glad I could help the team win."
Today's off day looms big because it gives UH's relievers rest for tomorrow's series finale. (There is no game today because of UH commencement ceremonies.)
"It's just fun because we're winning," said Linsky (2-0), who won a decision for the second day in a row. "These past games have been full team efforts. Everyone's contributing."
In the opener, Spangler (3-6) won for the first time since March 19 against Air Force. His 13 strikeouts and four walks, plus the fact that NMSU is a selective-hitting team, led Spangler to reach 129 pitches, one of the rare occasions a UH pitcher has thrown at least 120 in Trapasso's nine-year tenure.
"It's more than I've thrown in the past, but I felt real fresh," Spangler said. "We had a week off last week and we conditioned like crazy. I felt fine. I told Trap I felt great."
"It was a situation where I was going to take him out after five," said Trapasso. "He was at 109 (pitches), but he said he felt great and could go one more inning."
That two-thirds extra inning helped, as Moore came in with 3 1/3 strong innings for his fourth save. By completing the game for Spangler, UH didn't have to spend it on Linsky.
The Rainbows clinched their first WAC series, but will now try for a sweep in tomorrow's 1:05 p.m. home series finale.