Hawaii’s late-game heroics that led to a conference title in 2010 have carried over to 2011.
Michael Blake scored the winning run on a passed ball with two outs in the eighth inning and the Rainbows rallied from a two-run deficit to beat No. 9 Oregon 4-3 last night in the season opener for both teams.
The Ducks got the tying run to second with two outs in the ninth inning when UH closer Lenny Linsky struck out pinch hitter Mitch Karraker to end the game.
"I just wanted to relax and not get too wound up," said Linsky, who combined with Blair Walters to throw 2 2/3 hitless innings in relief of starter Matt Sisto. "Everyone did their part and we got a win."
A sold-out Les Murakami Stadium crowd of 3,409 saw the Rainbows come to life trailing 3-1 in the eighth. Jeff Van Doornum, who was 2-for-2 with two walks, smacked a one-out single to score Kolten Wong to cut the deficit in half. Porter Clayton replaced Kellen Moen and threw exactly one pitch, allowing a single to Blake, setting the stage for Collin Bennett.
The Ducks brought in closer Scott McGough and Bennett punched an RBI double down the right-field line to score Van Doornum with the tying run.
McGough struck out David Peterson for the second out, but catcher Jack Marder booted McGough’s first offering to Sean Montplaisir, allowing Blake to score the winning run.
"We overcame some adversity and that’s the big thing," Hawaii coach Mike Trapasso said. "We were tight and made some mistakes, particularly defensively, that we normally don’t make, but that’s going to happen early, especially with this atmosphere and with such a great crowd."
Oregon starter Tyler Anderson, one of the top pitching prospects in the country, allowed one run on four hits in six innings. He left the game with a 3-1 lead, but Bennett made sure the Ducks couldn’t hold it.
"I love being in that kind of situation," Bennett said. "It’s a big win for us with Lenny coming out there and closing the game the way he did."
Both teams got the leadoff runner on base in the first three innings, but the Ducks cashed in first in the third. Connor Hofmann singled up the middle and Aaron Jones followed with an infield single that shortstop Matt Harrison dived for but could not field cleanly.
A sacrifice bunt by Marcus Piazzisi moved the runners up for Marder, whose ground ball to second base scored Hofmann for a 1-0 Oregon lead.
The Ducks added a run in the fourth on two more Hawaii errors. J.J. Altobelli reached second after Wong’s throw on a ground ball sailed into the UH dugout. After a strikeout, Tyler Kuresa smoked a line drive in the gap in left-center that bounced out of the glove of Zack Swasey, allowing Altobelli to score for a 2-0 lead.
Swasey got the ‘Bows back in it in the fifth, drilling a triple to the gap in right-center to lead off. With one out, Breland Almadova dropped a bunt between the pitcher and third base for a hit to score Swasey to make it 2-1.
After the Swasey error, Sisto retired the next 10 batters before Danny Pulfer’s one-out double down the left-field line in the seventh. After a balk moved Pulfer to third, Hofmann drove an RBI single through the hole between short and third. Jones followed with a single up the middle, ending Sisto’s day after 6 1/3 innings.
Walters, who was credited with the win, replaced Sisto and got back-to-back groundouts to end the inning without allowing another run.
Sisto finished with three strikeouts and no walks, allowing six hits and two earned runs.
"As good as we feel tonight, we’ve got three more games against this team and we have to come out with the same attitude tomorrow or I guarantee they will pound us," Trapasso said. "They are too good of a team to lose a game like that and not come out and try to establish something early tomorrow."
The Ducks will send left-hander Christian Jones to the mound tonight opposite UH junior Connor Little.