Fresno routs UH to force rematch
By Don Ketchum
Special to the Honolulu Advertiser
MESA, Ariz. — There was no championship celebration for the University of Hawai'i baseball team in the Western Athletic Conference Tournament last night.
The fourth-seeded Rainbows, who had been hitting the cover off the ball in their first three games, got a taste of their own medicine as top-seeded Fresno State forced a winner-take-all game today by pounding out 19 hits in a 14-5 victory at HoHoKam Park.
The Rainbows (32-26) will meet the Bulldogs (38-24) at 9 a.m., Hawai'i time. Hawai'i will be the home team as it attempts to win its first conference title since 1992.
The focus for the Rainbows now shifts to pitching, especially since Fresno State also scored in double figures in a 13-1 victory over San Jose State in seven innings earlier yesterday.
"Pitching is going to set the tone. It always does,'' said Hawai'i coach Mike Trapasso.
He will give the ball to right-hander Josh Slaats, who pitched 5 2/3 innings in the tournament opener against Louisiana Tech on Wednesday. Slaats gave up three runs on seven hits, but none of the runs were earned.
Trapasso hopes he can get at least three or four solid innings out of Slaats, and likely will go with right-hander Lenny Linsky after that. Linsky got the win in relief against Louisiana Tech.
"Lenny might throw five or six innings. He is our freshest, best guy,'' Trapasso said.
Of Fresno State, he said, "Today is why they are the conference champs (regular season) for four straight seasons and have won a national championship (in 2008). They play well with their backs to the wall. Now we are going to find out how we play with our backs to the wall.''
Hawai'i began last night's game by scoring four runs on five hits in the first inning. Second baseman Kolten Wong tripled on the first pitch he saw from right-hander Matt Morse and third baseman Pi'ikea Kitamura singled on the first pitch he saw. Collin Bennett doubled home two runs later in the inning, giving him six doubles for the tournament to tie a record.
Fresno State scored twice in the bottom of the first against right-hander Connor Little. Hawai'i still looked to be in good shape when it scored in the top of the second on a single by designated hitter Jeff Van Doornum.
Then the roof caved in.
Fresno State scored six runs in the second on six hits and a pair of errors.
The Bulldogs kept piling it on, scoring two runs in the third, one on a home run by second baseman Danny Muno. He had tripled and doubled earlier in the game and in the fifth hit a single to give him a cycle. It was the first cycle in Fresno State history.
Fresno State right fielder Bobby Coyle also had four hits, including a monster solo home run in the seventh that traveled well over 400 feet, beyond both bullpens in right field.
Hawai'i amassed 12 hits and now has 62 for the tournament.
"We are still hitting the ball well, but tonight we didn't get them at the right time,'' Bennett said. "We are still excited for (today). We are not going to let this loss get the best of us.''