Hawai’i routs Nevada baseball
Appeal Sports Writer
RENO – Peccole Park has been a chamber of horrors for the University of Hawai’i baseball team. The Rainbow Warriors were 2-13 in their last 15 games in the Silver State, and have never won a series.
That could very well change if Hawai’i plays like it did Friday night.
The Rainbow Warriors hammered Wolf Pack ace Tim Schoeninger for six runs in the first two innings, and went on to a 13-4 Western Athletic Conference victory over Nevada.
The loss was Nevada’s third in its last four games and evened the Pack’s WAC mark at 5-5. Nevada is 15-17 overall.
“If we just play our game, it doesn’t matter who we’re playing or where we’re playing,” said Hawai’i coach Mike Trapasso, whose team pounded out 15 hits en route to improving to 4-5 in WAC play and 26-11 overall.
And, that game is making contact. Hawai’i showed why it was hitting nearly .300 entering the game, hitting the ball all over the place.
“Right from the start, they came out hitting the ball, and we didn’t come out hitting,” Nevada third baseman Matt Bowman of Dayton said. “We have to put tonight behind us and come out ready to play tomorrow (Saturday).
“You have to give them credit. They were stroking the ball and we didn’t play defense at times.”
Nevada made three errors, all in the fifth, leading to five unearned runs, which you can’t do against a team like the Rainbow Warriors.
Hawai’i took a 3-0 lead in the first when Robbie Wilder singled, stole second and moved to third on Justin Frash’s one-out single. Up stepped Luis Avila, who deposited a 1-1 fastball over the fence in left. Schoeninger retired the next two hitters.
The visitors made it 6-0 in the second thanks to a two-run single by Wilder and a run-scoring single by Frash.
“Unfortunately he (Schoeninger) had no command of any of his pitches,” Nevada coach Gary Powers said. “It makes it difficult to have any consistency. When you are having trouble throwing your fastball (for strikes), you can’t set up anything else. Every pitcher is going to have those days.”
Those six runs were more than enough for Hawai’i starter Steven Wright, who improved to 6-2. Wright is 3-0 on the road with an 0.78 ERA. He’s fanned 28 in his last 23 innings and opposing hitters are hitting only .146 against him in those starts (Loyola, Fresno State and Nevada).
“Steven threw well,” Trapasso said. “He gives us what we’re hoping to have and need on Friday.”
“We knew that going in (about Wright),” Powers said. “He’s one of the best pitchers on the West Coast. We definitely knew what he was capable of. He kept the ball down in the zone and stayed ahead of hitters.”
Wright, who scattered seven hits over seven innings, fanned eight and didn’t walk a batter. He said he thrives in a hostile environment.
“I like pitching on the road,” Wright said. “I like the atmosphere. It’s you and your teammates. You’re like a big family. I love going to somebody else’s home and taking it to them.”
He did it mainly with a fastball and slider because his curveball was ineffective.
“I don’t think he walked a guy,” said Bowman, who went 2-for-3 and scored twice. “He had a lively fastball and is slider was working pretty good. He kept us off balance.”
The poor defense Bowman alluded to after the game came in the fifth, and Schoeninger was the victim. Bowman bobbled a roller between third and short, Shawn Scobee dropped a fly ball in right and David Ciarlo had a throwing error. Throw in two walks and two hits, and you have five more Hawai’i runs and an 11-0 lead.
Carson grad Owen Brolsma came in to get the third out in the fifth and he pitched a scoreless sixth before giving way to former Spanish Springs star Steve Masten, who gave up two runs and five hits in 1 1/3 innings.
Faced with a 13-1 deficit, Nevada scored three times in its final two at-bats, as Baker Krukow delivered a run-scoring single, Ryan Foley hit a sacrifice fly and Drew Johnson hit a solo homer.
Where does the Pack go from here? They lost twice at Louisiana Tech, a team they used to own, and they follow that with a loss to Hawai’i.
“We had a chance to win two games (at Tech),” Powers said. “We blew a 7-0 lead in one game. We’re a really different team personality wise and we have a different talent level.
“I knew going in we were going to be one of the youngest and inexperienced teams, and it’s playing itself out. Every one of the teams (in the WAC) have more experience, and some days that wins out.”
This is a team lacking depth, and that ties Powers’ hands at times. He has to keep struggling players in because there is no other alternative. It’s not a situation he likes, but one he knows he has to deal with for the next 20-plus games.
Notes: Foley returned to action for the first time since breaking a finger. He hit the aforementioned sacrifice fly and handled one chance at second without an error … Hawai’i’s Justin Costi faces Travis Sutton today at 1 p.m. … Speedy Durrell Williams, who entered the game with a .232 average, slammed a triple and single … Johnson has three hits in his last two games, and figures to get a start in left today … Bowman has 14 multi-hit games, one ahead of Scobee … Schoeninger, who had his worst outing, yielded 11 runs, six earned, and 10 hits.