Hawaii must hope for outside help to make the NCAA field after falling short in the WAC final
POSTED: 01:30 a.m. HST, May 29, 2011
MESA, Ariz. » The Hawaii Rainbows did everything they could.
Now the fate of their 2011 baseball season rests in the hands of others.
Second-seeded Fresno State won its fifth Western Athletic Conference tournament title in six years with an overpowering 15-4 victory over No. 1 seed Hawaii last night at Hohokam Stadium.
The Rainbows (34-25) battled just to make it to the championship game, needing 3 hours, 38 minutes to beat Louisiana Tech 18-10 in an elimination game.
An hour later, Hawaii had to turn around and face a fresh Fresno State team that scored 39 runs in three tournament games.
Tournament most valuable player Dusty Robinson doubled and scored two runs and Jordan Ribera hit a three-run double as Fresno State scored 12 straight runs after Hawaii pulled to a 3-3 tie in the bottom of the third.
"We battled down to the end and we just ran out of pitching," Hawaii coach Mike Trapasso said. "At the end of the day, I couldn't be more proud of this team because they battle and they fight and they deserve to go to a regional because this is a regional team."
All UH can do now is hope for an at-large selection into the NCAA tournament. The field of 64 will be announced on Monday morning at 6:30 during the selection show televised on ESPN.
Hawaii's at-large chances took a big hit when New Mexico, 20-39 with an RPI of 134, won the Mountain West Conference tournament on Friday, making for one less available at-large berth.
"We're someone who should be in a regional because we're fighters and we always battle and we've beaten good teams and the regional people should see that," junior Kolten Wong said. "I know for a fact that we're a regional team and if we get hot at the right time, we could be a world series team."
If this is the final game of the season, it marks the end of the road for five seniors.
Jeff Van Doornum, who was 7-for-18 with a double and three runs scored in the tournament, finished his career in the top 10 all-time in hits (240), doubles (50) and total bases (370).
UH also will likely lose Wong and Lenny Linsky to the draft.
Wong moved into second place on the school's all-time home run list with his 25th career shot in the first game.
Linsky recorded saves in both outings in the tournament, giving him a single-season school record of 14 this year.
"I'm grateful to Coach Trap and the whole staff and the people of Hawaii," Linsky said. "We've had a helluva year, we were the No. 1 seed, we were regular-season champs, and if we were in any other conference, that team would get a shot."
Hawaii, which has overcome adversity throughout the year, had to do it again.
Center fielder Breland Almadova and third baseman Pi‘ikea Kitamura went to the hospital with food poisoning and missed the first game.
Kitamura returned for the second and finished 3-for-4 with a double and two RBIs.
"I was dehydrated and throwing up, but I got hydrated, got something in my stomach and forced myself to get out there and play the second game," Kitamura said.