UH closes in on WAC tourney with 5-3 win
Although still not at his best, right-hander Josh Slaats lasted past the third inning for the first time in nearly a month as Hawai'i beat San Jose State, 5-3, yesterday in the opener of the four-game Western Athletic Conference series at Municipal Stadium in San Jose, Calif.
As far as securing a spot in next week's WAC tournament, the Rainbows (27-24 overall, 10-11 WAC) must wait another day, as last-place Sacramento State beat first-place Fresno State, 12-2, yesterday. Hawai'i needs to win one more game or Sacramento State must lose another for UH to earn one of the six spots in the tournament.
The Rainbows play the Spartans (20-33, 8-13) in a doubleheader today starting at 10 a.m. Hawai'i time. The game will be on ESPN 1420 AM, but picked up in progress following the UH softball team's regional against Stanford that starts at 9 a.m.
Slaats (5-3) pitched five innings, allowing two runs and four hits, but he walked four and hit two batters, while striking out four.
"He was not good," UH coach Mike Trapasso said. "He could not pitch ahead in the count. He was able to work out of jams and that's something. He's not being aggressive. You can't go out there and walk all those guys and hit guys. You can't give up six freebies like that. You have to challenge guys."
Not counting Tuesday's start at Stanford in which he pitched two innings in a staffed game, Slaats lasted two innings against Nevada and 2 1/3 innings against New Mexico State his previous two WAC starts.
Trapasso would not say that Slaats would start the tournament opener just yet. Should UH win today's first game, Trapasso said he might consider holding back second-game starter Matt Sisto as an option.
Yesterday, Alex Capaul followed Slaats with 2 2/3 innings, allowing an unearned run while giving up two hits. Lenny Linksy retired all four batters he faced for his 10th save.
Except for Slaats' walks and hit batsmen, Trapasso was pleased with his team's play. He said the players executed well offensively and made some good defensive plays, particulary shortstop Greg Garcia.
Second baseman Kolten Wong batted 4 for 5 with an RBI triple to lead UH's 10-hit attack.
San Jose State starter Blake McFarland (6-4) pitched seven innings, allowing three runs, seven hits and two walks, while striking out three.
The Spartans took a 1-0 lead in the third when they cashed in one of Slaats' walks on Karson Klauer's RBI groundout.
The Rainbows tied it in the fourth when they converted a McFarland walk to Jeffrey Van Doornum into a sacrifice fly by Collin Bennett.
Hawai'i took a 3-1 lead in the fifth on a sacrifice fly by Pi'ikea Kitamura and RBI single by Van Doornum.
San Jose State pulled to 3-2 when it converted a lead-off hit batsman into a two-out, RBI single by Jason Martin.
UH cushioned its lead with a run in the eighth on Wong's run-scoring triple and a run in the ninth on Kevin Macdonald's RBI single. The ninth-inning run came after the Spartans closed to 4-3 in the bottom of the eighth on a single and error.
"Outside of Josh's walks, we played pretty well," Trapasso said. "We executed well on offense and made some things happen."