FRESNO, Calif. » Two down, two to go.
The worst Hawaii’s baseball team can come out of this big weekend series is with a split.
The Rainbows continued their late-inning heroics last night, scoring four runs in the top of the ninth to defeat Fresno State, 6-2. Again, it was a Bulldogs mistake that keyed the game-winning rally, as first baseman Jordan Ribera threw wild to the plate on a safety squeeze, leading to three of the runs being unearned.
On Friday, Hawaii pulled out a 6-5 victory when the winning run scored on a wild pitch.
"We executed well, we got bunts down, we moved runners, we were getting timely hits," Hawaii coach Mike Trapasso said. "That’s a great club, so to come in here and win the first two, that’s a good start to this long road trip.
"That’s more our M.O., is to pitch well. We haven’t played good defense this year, but we did tonight."
The defense was the difference, as Hawaii (24-17, 9-1 Western Athletic Conference) finished the night with four unearned runs.
The trouble started early for Fresno State (28-9, 8-5). Bulldogs freshman third baseman Jacob Alvarez had a nightmare second inning when he was looking directly into the sun. With one out, Jeffrey Van Doornum chopped a ball over Alvarez, who was playing in. He clearly couldn’t pick the ball up and it went over his head for a single. Collin Bennett followed with another ball right at Alvarez, this one going off of his glove for an error. Sean Montplaisir cashed in the break with a single to give the Rainbows a 1-0 lead.
Kolten Wong, who had been 0-for-6 in the series to that point, hammered a solo home run in the sixth for a 2-0 lead.
Freshman pitcher Jarrett Arakawa cruised through the first five innings, allowing just two hits. But with two outs in the bottom of the sixth, Dusty Robinson blasted a home run off the top of the scoreboard in left-center to make it 2-1.
Arakawa appeared to tire in the seventh, allowing the tying run on a single by No. 9 hitter Alvarez — a nice bit of redemption for him. Brent Harrison came on with Alvarez on third and two outs to retire Garrett Weber and keep the game tied.
"Our bullpen’s been solid for us this year; pitching depth’s been our strength," Trapasso said. "Brett’s not a guy we’ve been able to use a lot, as much as I know he’d like to pitch, but he’s been effective when he’s come in in that role."
On the other side, Josh Poytress had pitched well enough to win, allowing the two runs on three hits in 7 1/3 innings. In the ninth, Charlie Peterson, who escaped an eighth-inning jam, allowed a single to Bennett. After Montplaisir sacrificed, Garrett Champion singled up the middle, sending Bennett, who stopped and took a step back to second before advancing, to third.
Jesse Moore then got down a safety squeeze. Ribera came up with the ball but threw it past catcher Austin Wynns. Bennett scored, Champion went to third and Moore to second, setting up a huge inning. Pi’ikea Kitamura hit a sacrifice fly and Swasey had a two-run single to blow the game open.
"That was really big," Harrison said. "It makes it a lot easier when they do that for the back end of the bullpen. They executed really well, started to get some hits, score some runs and it’s all downhill from there."
Said Fresno State coach Mike Batesole, "They out-defensed us. We didn’t get it done and they made some outstanding plays in the clutch."