FRESNO, Calif. » Hawaii baseball coach Mike Trapasso took a look at the scoresheet last night and shook his head.
"I don’t know how you win a game striking out 17 times, but we found a way," he said. "Holy smokes."
Holy smokes indeed. The Rainbows pulled off a 6-5 win in 10 innings at Fresno State, giving themselves a three-game cushion in the loss column over their closest pursuers in the Western Athletic Conference.
Sean Montplaisir scored the winning run on a wild pitch in the top of the 10th inning for Hawaii (23-17, 8-1 WAC). Lenny Linsky pitched the bottom of the 10th to earn his ninth save.
"If you’ve got to stay out here this long, you might as well win it," Trapasso said. "It was a strange game, a little sloppy on both sides. You’ve got to find a way to win and we were fortunate there to win on a wild pitch, but we hung around."
The Warriors jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the top of the first with three unearned runs off Greg Gonzalez, who came into the game with a 7-0 record and a 1.31 ERA. In his last start, against Sacramento State, he threw a four-hit shutout, earning WAC pitcher of the week honors for the fourth time this year.
He won’t get that award this week, although he certainly deserved better than he got in the first inning. Danny Muno’s error on Jeffrey Van Doornum’s grounder came with two outs and should have sent Gonzalez back to the dugout. Instead, he gave up back-to-back doubles to Zack Swasey and Montplaisir, the former knocking in one run, the latter knocking in two.
"It was just nice to get on the board right off the bat," Montplaisir said. "That pitcher Gonzalez, he’s dirty. We only had two hits in that inning, they just happened to be the right hits at the right time. That gave us a good foundation."
Said Trapasso, "It goes without saying how big the first inning was. Not only do we get on the board, but I think he threw 39 pitches in the first inning, and that gives you a chance to go into the pen and see what happens. Their pen is so deep, it’s not like getting another team’s pen. But it’s still better facing somebody other than Gonzalez as good as he’s been this year."
Gonzalez ended up coming out after five innings, his shortest outing of the year. He allowed just one more hit and struck out 11 against two walks. However, he threw 103 pitches, and that equates to an early shower.
"I let it get away from me," Gonzalez said. "The ball was up and I wasn’t locating and getting behind guys. You’re not going to win like that. If you’re going to go only five innings as a starter, you don’t expect to win."
Once Gonzalez was out of the game, however, the Rainbows retook the lead with two runs in the sixth. The rally started when Robinson, the right fielder, nearly made a great catch on Van Doornum’s slicing line drive. Robinson had the ball, but when he went to the ground it came out and sailed over the fence down the right-field line. Swasey singled in Van Doornum with the tying run and pinch hitter Collin Bennett put the Rainbows on top with a sacrifice fly.
Muno’s single in the bottom of the eighth tied the game for Fresno State. In the 10th, Hawaii loaded the bases against Charlie Robertson with one out. A.J. Bayus grounded into a fielder’s choice, with Swasey out at home. However, with Breland Almadova up, Robertson threw a pitch that got through the legs of catcher Austin Wynns, allowing Montplaisir to score.
Hawaii 6, Fresno State 5
E—Moore 2; Muno. LOB—Hawaii 11; FSU 10. 2B—Van Doornum, Swasey, Montplaisir 2; Wise. HR—Ribera. SH—Almadova, Blake. SF—Bennett. SB—Almadova, Swasey; Robinson.
WP—Sisto; Kendall, Robertson. PB—Champion 2.