At times during the season, Hawaii’s pitching picked up an offense that struggled to score runs.
With the pitching staff suddenly under fire, it’s the offense’s turn to take over.
Sean Montplaisir went 4-for-5 with a double and two RBIs and Collin Bennett was 3-for-6 with a double and two RBIs as Hawaii pounded out 15 hits in a 12-9 win over Nevada in the opener of a four-game series yesterday at Peccole Park in Reno, Nev.
Zack Swasey went 3-for-4 and drove in three runs, and Pi‘ikea Kitamura had two hits and two RBIs and scored three times as the Rainbows moved a full game ahead of No. 18 Fresno State for the league lead.
“I told these kids we’ve just got to find a way,” Hawaii coach Mike Trapasso said. “We’ve had plenty of games where we didn’t hit well, but our pitching allowed us to win and this was one of those games that was won by the offense.”
Junior Matt Sisto had his third straight start in which he couldn’t make it to the mound to start the fourth inning. Sisto uncharacteristically walked five in three innings, allowing four runs on four hits.
“The best way I can put it is he’s completely out of whack right now,” Trapasso said. “The big thing right now for us is we’ve got to have him throwing well for us.”
Hawaii, which averages less than five runs a game, matched that in the first three innings to back Sisto. Swasey delivered a two-out RBI single in the first and Montplaisir’s first hit was a run-scoring single in the second to tie the game at 2-2.
Jeff Van Doornum had the big hit in the third with an RBI double, and Montplaisir again drove in a run with a single to put UH in front 6-2.
Nevada starter Tom Jameson (3-6) didn’t last much longer than Sisto, giving up nine hits and seven runs in 323 innings.
Brent Harrison (2-1) threw 423 innings in relief of Sisto, keeping Trapasso from using Jesse Moore or Randy Yard, who both could start the second game of the doubleheader on Sunday with Connor Little out due to an injury.
“Brent Harrison saved us because he kept us from using Randy or Blair (Walters),” Trapasso said. “In a hitters park like this, you’re going to give up doubles, triples and home runs, but the nine walks are something we can’t have.”
Alex Capaul allowed three hits and two runs in an inning, giving up a two-run double to Braden Shipley with two outs in the ninth to cut the lead to 12-9. After walking Kamehameha graduate Waylen Sing Chow to bring the tying run to the plate, Capaul was replaced by Lenny Linsky, who got Joe Kohan to fly out deep to right field to earn his 10th save.
Bennett, who had two nifty catches in foul ground at Fresno State, made a diving catch of Kohan’s shot that would have put the tying run at third base.
“That was a classic play,” Trapasso said. “If he doesn’t make that catch the tying run is on third with their best hitter at the plate, and I didn’t even want to think about that.”
The series continues with a single game today at 3:05 p.m.
Hawaii 12, Nevada 9
E—Almadova (2); Kohan (5); Shipley (7); Culligan (1). DP—Hawaii 1; Nevada 1. LOB—Hawaii 12; Nevada 11. 2B—Bennett (5); Van Doornum 2 (12); Montplaisir (14); Sing Chow 2 (2); Stassi 2 (15); Barnett (8); Melino (11); Shipley (4). HBP—Wong; Van Doornum; Kohan. SH—Kitamura (7). SF—Swasey (5). SB—Almadova (10); Wong (18); Swasey (11); Montplaisir (5); Melino (5). CS—Swasey (5).
HBP—by Jameson (Wong); by Sisto (Kohan); by Culligan (Van Doornum). PB—Champion (7). Umpires—(Plate): Heath Jones. (First): Dick Flaherty. (Third): Phil Benson. T—3:17.