Portland starter Chris Johnson doesn’t have the credentials of some of the other pitchers Hawaii has faced this season.
That doesn’t mean he wasn’t just as effective.
The sophomore right-hander combined with three other pitchers on a three-hitter to give Portland a 5-1 victory over Hawaii in the opener of a four-game series at Les Murakami Stadium.
Johnson (1-0) silenced a crowd of 1,133, allowing two hits and one run over seven innings. Closer Chris Dennis struck out three in 1 1/3 innings to earn his fifth save and help Portland (7-4) snap a four-game losing streak.
Hawaii (5-8), meanwhile, issued a season-high seven walks in losing its third game in a row for the second time this season.
"That’s our worst game of the year," Hawaii coach Mike Trapasso said. "You’re not going win giving up seven walks, a hit batter and an error. That’s how you get beat."
Hawaii starter Matt Sisto (0-2) hadn’t issued a walk in 19 consecutive innings, but uncharacteristically allowed five free passes.
Portland tallied its first run in the second when Kevin Armijo’s RBI single scored Matt Mardesich, who was hit by a pitch.
Portland made it 2-0 in the third when Riley Henricks, who drew a walk, scored on a single by Turner Gill.
Ben Grubb and Armijo opened the fourth with consecutive hits, but Kramer Scott bunted into a double play trying to advance the runners.
Sisto walked consecutive batters to load the bases, but escaped any damage by getting Kris Kauppila to ground into a fielder’s choice.
Sisto retired eight in a row before a one-out walk in the seventh and left the game after 99 pitches, going 6 2/3 innings with four hits allowed.
"That’s not something that you see very often with Sisto," Trapasso said. "We hung in there until the end, but you can’t give up three at the end there in a tight game."
Johnson’s only blemish in the first three innings was a hit batter. He didn’t give up a hit until Kolten Wong’s single with one out in the fourth. Jeff Van Doornum followed with a base hit and Michael Blake drove in Wong with a sacrifice fly to cut the Portland lead in half at 2-1.
Johnson threw 109 pitches in seven innings, striking out six and walking one.
"It was just one of those games that nothing was going our way," said Wong, who had two of UH’s three hits. "(Johnson) did a good job spotting his fastball and he did a good job with his offspeed stuff to keep us off balance."
The Rainbows had only allowed 27 walks all season before giving up seven last night. Reliever Blair Walters walked two batters in the ninth before an RBI single by pinch hitter Tyler Thompson gave the Pilots a 3-1 lead. Zach Gallagher struck out Kauppila for the second out, but after the runners moved up on a double steal, Henricks laced a 1-2 pitch into right-center for a two-run single to push Portland’s lead to 5-1.
Armijo was the only Pilot to finish with two hits.
Hawaii junior Zack Swasey went 0-for-4 for the Rainbows, ending his 11-game hitting streak.
Pi’ikea Kitamura started at catcher for the injured David Peterson, who has been ruled out of the series with pain in his throwing arm.
Wong was moved to third in the batting order after starting seven straight games in the leadoff spot. Sean Montplaisir took Wong’s spot at the top and finished 0-for-3 to drop his batting average below .400.
The four-game series continues today at 6:35 p.m. Right-hander Connor Little (1-0, 2.60) will take the mound for UH and oppose Portland’s Owen Jones (1-0, 2.76).
Portland 5, Hawaii 1
|C. Thompson lf||2||0||0||0||Montplaisir ph||3||0||0||0|
|T. Thompson ph||1||1||1||1||Swasey rf||4||0||0||0|
|Kauppila ss||5||0||0||0||Wong 2b||4||1||2||0|
|Henricks 2b||4||1||1||2||Van Drnm 1b||4||0||1||0|
|Gill dh||3||0||1||1||Blake dh||3||0||0||1|
|Fraser ph||2||0||0||0||Bennett rf||3||0||0||0|
|Mardesich 3b||3||1||1||0||Kitamura c||3||0||0||0|
|Grubb c||4||0||1||0||Bayus 3b||2||0||0||0|
|Armijo 1b||3||0||2||1||Harrison ss||2||0||0||0|
|Westendorf ph||0||1||0||0||Torigoe ph||1||0||0||0|
|Scott rf||3||0||0||0||Moore ss||0||0||0||0|
E–Harrison. DP–Hawaii 2. Portland 8; Hawaii 5. HBP–Mardesich; Bennett. SH–Scott. SF–Blake. SB–Henricks; Armijo; Smith 2.
|Johnson (W, 1-0)||7||2||1||1||1||6|
|Sisto (L, 0-2)||6 2/3||4||2||1||5||5|
Umpires–Greg Charles (Plate); John Kinard (First); Ramon Armendariz (Third).