Down to their last out, the Rainbows take a scintillating 10-inning, series-clinching win from Fresno State
POSTED: 1:30 a.m. HST, Apr 8, 2012
LAST UPDATED: 4:13 a.m. HST, Apr 8, 2012
Recent history suggests Fresno State will get its chance at redemption at the Western Athletic Conference baseball tournament next month in Arizona.
Until then, Hawaii can savor one of its most memorable wins in a rivalry destined not to end quietly.
Down to the final out, Pi‘ikea Kitamura capped a wild 10th inning with a game-winning two-run double off Fresno State closer Taylor Garrison to give the Rainbows a pulsating 3-2 victory on Saturday afternoon at Les Murakami Stadium.
The victory capped the 107th and final regular-season meeting between the schools as conference foes dating back to 1993.
In the past three years alone, the teams have played 21 times. Hawaii, which will head off to the Big West next year, ended Fresno’s run of four straight WAC titles in 2010. The Bulldogs, who will play in the Mountain West Conference, came back to end the ’Bows’ season last year in Mesa, Ariz.
“We wanted to set the tone for the rest of WAC play and we know we’re going to see these guys again,” said Kitamura, who hit .384 (5-for-13) with four RBIs in the series. “With two fast guys on (base), I said if I can get one in the gap, Kaeo (Aliviado) can run it out.”
Aliviado did exactly that, sending the 1,782 in attendance into a frenzy at UH’s second win of the year in extra innings. Aliviado, who had two hits to extend his hitting streak to a team-high nine games, took off from first on contact and never looked back.
“I felt really confident with Pi‘ikea up to bat and he got the job done,” said Aliviado, who is hitting .333 (11-for-33) during the streak. “(Fresno) is a good team and is always competitive, but we played our game today and got the job done.”
Hawaii (19-13, 2-1) has won five of six and opened its 33rd and final year of WAC play with a crucial series win against the Bulldogs
The Rainbows hadn’t won a series from Fresno State since 2007 and had to play nearly perfect defense to hang in through the first nine innings with only five hits.
“I don’t know if you can ask for a better college baseball series as a fan and even as a coach,” Hawaii coach Mike Trapasso said. “It was two teams competing that have a lot of pride and (Fresno) does such a great job that I think it adds to the whole weekend when you have such a tight, well-fought series.”
With a series win on the line, the Bulldogs seemed to grab the momentum in the top of the 10th.
Catcher Austin Wynns doubled just inside the bag at third to score Daniel Moultrie with the go-ahead run with two outs.
Garrison (0-1), who earned a two-inning save in Friday’s win, entered with a team-leading 1.83 ERA and breezed through the first two UH hitters in the 10th.
Freshman Stephen Ventimilia kept the game going by drawing his 30th walk of the season and Aliviado dropped a 1-1 pitch into right-center for a single before Kitamura’s hit ended it.
Since a disappointing 0-4 road trip, Kitamura has stepped up to lead UH offensively, hitting .429 (12-for-28) with four doubles and eight RBIs in his last seven games.
“You start with the numbers he’s put up, but he’s anchoring our defense, where he’s really played well all year and he’s the leader of our clubhouse,” Trapasso said. “It looked like (Fresno) was going to get the timely hit today … but our guys are going to play until the last out and you might as well because you never know what’s going to happen.”
Lost in the madness of an extra-inning comeback was the performance of freshman left-hander Scott Squier, who had one of the best outings of his young career.
Squier matched Fresno State starter Thomas Harlan pitch-for-pitch, leaving a scoreless game with one out in the seventh.
He pitched into the seventh for just the second time all year, allowing seven hits and one run on two walks and five strikeouts in 61⁄3 innings.
“I went to a two-seam on my fastball to create a little more movement and I didn’t think I’d be able to control it as well as I did today,” Squier said. “I just got a little taste of the rivalry with Fresno this series and for sure, it was a big win.”
Harlan matched Squier’s 61⁄3 innings and was charged with an unearned run on four hits with one walk and four strikeouts.
Trevor Podratz and Collin Bennett singled to start the seventh and the Bulldogs misplayed a bunt at third to load the bases with nobody out.
Zack Swasey hit a fly ball to deep left that scored Podratz easily and ended Harlan’s day. Cody Kendall came on in relief and got Max Duval to ground into a double play to keep the game tied at 1-all.
Brent Harrison (2-1) earned the win for Hawaii, giving up one run (on Wynns’ hit in the 10th) over the final 22⁄3 innings.
The Rainbows have a week off in conference play and will host Saint Mary’s (Calif.) for the first of four games on Friday at 6:35 p.m.
|New Mexico St.||2||1||.667||—||25||9|
|San Jose St.||0||0||.000||1⁄2||14||14|
Sacramento State at Louisiana Tech
|Hutcheson 2b||4||0||0||0||Ventimilia 2b||4||1||1||0|
|Moultrie dh||5||1||0||0||Aliviado lf||5||1||2||0|
|Judge cf||4||0||3||0||Kitamura ss||5||0||2||2|
|Wynns c||4||0||1||1||Podratz dh||4||1||1||0|
|Luplow rf||5||0||1||0||Bennett 3b||3||0||1||0|
|Mariscal ss||3||1||1||0||Almadova cf||3||0||0||0|
|Brink 1b||4||0||2||0||Swasey rf||3||0||0||1|
|Tempel cf||2||0||2||0||Duval 1b||4||0||0||0|
|Garrison ph||1||0||1||1||Nottinghm c||3||0||0||0|
|Mullins lf||1||0||0||0||Bayus ph||1||0||0||0|
|FSU (15-16, 1-2)||000||000||100||1||– 2||12||2|
|Hawaii (19-13, 2-1)||000||000||100||2||— 3||7||0|
|Garrison (L, 0-1)||1||2||2||2||1||1|
|Harrison (W, 2-1)||22⁄3||3||1||1||1||1|