POSTED: 01:30 a.m. HST, Mar 22, 2011
LAST UPDATED: 02:21 a.m. HST, Mar 22, 2011
With a 3-2 count and first base open, you’d think teams have learned to stay away from Kolten Wong by now.
Apparently, word hasn’t spread to Shreveport, La.
Wong drilled a two-run homer to break open a close game and Hawaii completed a four-game sweep of Centenary College with an 8-4 win last night.
The Gents (3-10) took their first lead of the series and were within a run at 5-4 in the sixth inning. Sean Montplaisir was at second after a go-ahead RBI single when Wong sent a rowdy Les Murakami Stadium crowd of 1,090 into a frenzy with his third home run of the season.
“I was expecting a curve, but he came after me and I was able to get a good swing on it,” Wong said.
The Rainbows (11-9) won their fifth in a row, getting a much-needed sweep of the Gents with Cal State Fullerton and Wichita State set to visit the islands the next two weeks.
“The rest of the season begins right here with Cal State Fullerton coming in, which could be the best team we’ve played all year,” Hawaii coach Mike Trapasso said. “We came out and didn’t play well those first four or five innings, and if you do that from here on, you’re not going to win.”
Wong was originally slated to start at short, but moved to the designated hitter spot after telling Trapasso about an hour before the game he was feeling some discomfort in his arm. Conner George, who took over at short, walked twice and scored a run and Matt Harrison was 1-for-4 with an RBI in his first start at second.
Wong said he could have had the night off, but wanted to contribute.
“I didn’t want to miss the game completely,” said Wong, who extended his hitting streak to 11 games. “I still wanted to be out there to hit and help the team.”
Michael Blake went 2-for-5 with a double, triple and two RBIs and Montplaisir singled in the sixth to extend his hitting streak to seven games.
Junior Collin Bennett ended a streak of six consecutive games without a start, getting the nod in right field. He finished 2-for-4 with two doubles and an RBI.
“I didn’t have a very good at-bat in that first AB, but was able to put a couple of good swings on the ball and hit a couple pitches to left field,” Bennett said. “I struggled to start the year and it got into my head a little bit, so I’ve just been focused on correcting those things.”
Alex Capaul (1-1) retired seven of the eight batters he faced to earn the win, striking out four. UH starter Jesse Moore allowed three runs on eight hits with a career-high eight strikeouts in five innings.
Everything seemed par for the series early as Hawaii jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the second on an RBI single by Harrison.
The Gents showed some life however, tying the game in the third with their third run of the series. Pete Rajkovich singled with one out and scored on an RBI hit by Matt Creamer,
Centenary took its first lead of the series in the fifth when RJ Talamantes, who doubled with two outs, scored on a throwing error by Moore trying to pick off the runner on first.
Creamer, who singled to move Talamantes to third, took third on a single by Kyle Morton and scored on a wild pitch to put the Gents up 3-1.
The Rainbows battled back against Centenary starter Derek Dalzell, who couldn’t make it out of the fifth inning.
Dalzell hit Breland Almadova to start the frame and walked Montplaisir to put men on first and second. Wong grounded into a double play before UH worked a little two-out magic.
Blake blooped a double into no-man’s land in right-center to score Almadova, and Bennett drilled an RBI double to the wall in right to tie the game at 3-3.
Pi‘ikea Kitamura singled to score Bennett, ending Dalzell’s day after 4 2/3 innings.
Cole Thompson (0-5) replaced Dalzell and allowed three runs in an inning of work to take the loss.
Hawaii returns to the field for the first of a four-game set with the Titans on Friday at 6:35 p.m. Cal State Fullerton is ranked No. 13 in this week’s Baseball America Top 25.