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’Bows still a win away

New Mexico State hammers Hawaii, keeping UH from a share of the WAC championship

By Star-Advertiser staff

LAST UPDATED: 10:29 p.m. HST, Aug 5, 2011

The Hawaii Rainbows picked a bad time to fall out of first place in the Western Athletic Conference.

New Mexico State tied a record for a UH opponent, scoring 13 times in the third inning, en route to an 18-8 victory over the Rainbows last night at Presley Askew Field in Las Cruces, N.M.

The loss dropped Hawaii (31-23, 16-7) into second place for the first time this season. The Rainbows need a victory in today’s regular-season finale to earn a share of the regular-season championship.

“It’s no surprise at all we’d wait until the very last game of the season to win the league,” Hawaii coach Mike Trapasso said. “We haven’t made anything easy on ourselves all year; why not make it interesting for the last game?”

Hawaii has the inside track at the No. 1 seed in the conference tournament should the teams tie for first, owning most of the tiebreaker scenarios against Fresno State, which finished league play on Thursday.

The Bulldogs need help from both Nevada and Sacramento State to have a shot at the top seed should the two teams tie.

To do that, the Rainbows need to find a way to slow down an Aggies offense that has scored 36 runs in the first 23 innings of the series.

New Mexico State has scored double-digit runs in eight of its past 10 home games against Hawaii.

“It’s not hard to see why they lead the nation in almost every offensive category,” Trapasso said. “They’re 26-5 at home this year, and what is hard to see is how they’ve lost any games the way they’ve swung the bats the last two days.”

The Aggies became the first team to score 13 runs in an inning against Hawaii since Air Force did it in an 18-17 win in 1989.

Hawaii’s record for most runs in an inning is 15 that same year at New Mexico.

The Rainbows took a 4-0 lead in the second inning when Sean Montplaisir and AJ Bayus connected on back-to-back homers.

The Aggies scored the next 14 runs, sending 18 men to the plate in the third.

Zach Gallagher (5-3) couldn’t record an out in the inning, allowing the first six men to reach base. Jesse Moore replaced Gallagher and allowed four singles, three hit batters, two walks and a double before finally recording the third out.

Tanner Waite finished 4-for-4 with five RBIs, Zac Fisher was 3-for-5 with a home run and three RBIs and Tyler Forney had three hits and three RBIs for the Aggies (34-21, 9-14), who clinched the final berth in the WAC tournament.

Sacramento State will be the odd team out.

Trapasso said he’ll have to staff today’s finale. Randy Yard (2-0, 1.93 ERA) would start if healthy, but has complained of soreness in his pitching arm the past two days.

Junior Connor Little (3-4, 4.73) or senior Alex Capaul (2-2, 6.26) could start, and the Rainbows have a fresh closer available in Lenny Linsky, who could pitch at least three innings.

Little would likely be held to two innings if he were to start.

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