Jeff Van Doornum slid into third, stood up and clasped his hands together in celebration.
His injured right hand, which had caused him much pain over the past week, suddenly felt good.
The senior first baseman delivered a bases-clearing triple during a seven-run fourth inning as Hawaii won the opener of its final home series of the season 8-2 over San Jose State last night.
Hawaii (28-20, 13-4 Western Athletic Conference) remained three up in the loss column on Fresno State, but perhaps more important, stretched its lead over the Spartans (31-19, 9-8) to four with seven to play.
The top two teams receive first-round byes in the WAC tournament starting in 12 days.
"It’s good to get the first one," Hawaii coach Mike Trapasso said. "You’re not going to get many walks, you’re not going to get many errors against these guys, and if you do, you need to make the most of them and take advantage of any mistakes they’ll make."
Each team had eight hits, but the Rainbows turned those hits into eight runs. UH’s seven-spot in the fourth came with only three hits. Van Doornum’s triple blew the game open.
"They were getting behind in the count and walked a couple of guys before me. so I figured they would go after me instead of walking another guy," Van Doornum said. "Hit in the gap and got us some more runs, some insurance, to help the team win."
Van Doornum said his hand, which was hit by a pitch last Thursday, still bothers him at the plate, but is something he can’t worry about.
"I’ve dealt with a lot of worse things, like three shoulder surgeries, so a little hand injury isn’t going to affect me," Van Doornum said. "It still bothers me, but if I think about it it’ll get into my head, and I can’t let that happen."
Six different ‘Bows drove in runs, including sophomore Pi‘ikea Kitamura, who was taken out in the eighth inning after suffering from a migraine.
The Rainbows, who entered the game leading the league in stolen bases, tested Spartans catcher Michael DiRocco early. Collin Bennett, coming off an 8-for-17 series at Nevada, singled to lead off the second. His stolen base with two outs allowed UH to take a 1-0 lead when Garrett Champion dribbled a ground ball through the hole between first and second, driving in a run.
The Spartans strung together three straight hits off of Hawaii starter Matt Sisto to take a 2-1 lead in the fourth. Last year’s WAC freshman of the year, Zack Jones, hit an RBI double and Nick Borg followed with a run-scoring single. SJSU loaded the bases with two outs when Sisto struck out DiRocco, setting the stage for UH’s seven-spot in the bottom of the inning to blow the game open.
Spartans ace Roberto Padilla, sporting a 2.62 ERA entering the game, couldn’t make it out of the fourth. Breland Almadova reached on an infield single with the bases loaded and Padilla’s fifth walk forced in another run, ending his day after 3 1/3 innings.
Kolten Wong drove in a run with a sacrifice fly and a fielding error by Borg at short allowed Van Doornum to rip his second triple of the season for an 8-2 lead.
Padilla (8-5) allowed six runs on five hits, walking five and striking out three.
The big inning gave a second wind to Sisto, who found his groove after the fourth. After pitching just 7 2/3 innings over his previous three starts, Sisto (4-4) went seven last night, sitting down nine of the final 11 batters he faced.
He allowed two runs on seven hits with two walks and a strikeout to pick up his first win in a month.
"They did a good job of taking his change away," Trapasso said. "It was big for him because he’s had some struggles these last three starts to get him seven innings and go 100 pitches."
|HAWAII 8, SAN JOSE 2
E–Borg. DP–San Jose 2; Hawaii 1. LOB–San Jose 7; Hawaii 7. 2B–Hertler; Stienstra. 3B–Van Doornum. SH–Kitamura. SF–Wong. SB–Almadova; Bennett.
WP–Austin 2. HBP–by Austin (Wong). PB–DiRocco.