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Rainbows earn first WAC title since '92

UH scores 15 runs in the sixth inning, tying a 1989 school record

By Star-Advertiser staff

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

It took a record-tying performance for Hawaii to clinch its first regular-season Western Athletic Conference baseball championship in 19 years.

The Rainbows matched a school record with 15 runs in the sixth inning of a 24-3 pasting of New Mexico State yesterday in the regular-season finale for both teams at Presley Askew Field in Las Cruces, N.M.

Hawaii (32-23, 17-7 WAC) finished tied for first with No. 19 Fresno State (37-13, 17-7). Both teams earned first-round byes in the WAC tournament that begins Wednesday in Mesa, Ariz.

The No. 1 seed will be determined based on how today's games end. If Nevada beats San Jose State and Sacramento State beats Louisiana Tech, Fresno State would get the No. 1 seed. If the Spartans win, Hawaii would earn the No. 1 seed. If both Nevada and Louisiana Tech win, the No. 1 seed would be determined by a random draw.

"The bottom line is we're WAC champs and I couldn't be more proud of this group that has gotten the most out of their abilities," Hawaii coach Mike Trapasso said. "We'll share it with Fresno, but that's all right because they're ranked and are an incredible club."

The 21-run differential is the biggest margin of victory in the Trapasso era. It's the most lopsided UH win since a 34-11 victory at Air Force in 1999.

The 15 runs in an inning tied a record set against New Mexico in 1989.

Hawaii outscored NMSU 51-39 in the four-game series and had more runs than outs yesterday.

"It's amazing to watch because you can't square up that many balls in (batting practice) let alone in a game," Trapasso said. "There's no explaining a series where all the games are won by nine runs or more, and where one team puts up a 13-spot one day and the other team comes back and puts up 15. That's bordering on ridiculous."

Breland Almadova extended his hitting streak to 10 games with a career-high five hits and scored four runs. Zack Swasey finished 4-for-6 with three runs and a career-high six RBIs, and Jeff Van Doornum finished 3-for-5 with a home run and four RBIs.

Six of Hawaii's season-high 24 hits went for extra bases. Almadova hit his team-leading 16th double, Pi‘ikea Kitamura went 3-for-4 with two doubles and three RBIs and Kolten Wong was 2-for-3 with a double, three walks and four runs scored.

Collin Bennett, who finished 2-for-3 with two walks, had three at-bats in the sixth inning as the Rainbows sent 19 men to the plate.

Randy Yard got the start and allowed one run on five hits in 3 2/3 innings.

Connor Little (4-4) pitched for the first time in 19 days and allowed two unearned runs in 2 1/3 innings to earn the win.

"Randy was solid and gave us a good effort and Connor was real good," Trapasso said. "His arm angle was back up top because there was no pain and he had good velocity."

Lenny Linsky pitched a scoreless seventh to end a game called due to the mercy rule.

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