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StarBulletin.com

Hawaii misses opportunities


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POSTED: Sunday, May 24, 2009

Perhaps it was a fitting end to a game—and a season—that began with promise and ended in frustration.

The outcome was all but sealed by the time Hawaii loaded the bases with one out in the ninth inning in a 10-3 loss to Fresno State yesterday. But when the game ended a strikeout and a fly out later, it was just the last in a series of missed opportunities that defined a disappointing exit from the NAPA Auto Parts Western Athletic Conference tournament.

The Rainbows left 13 runners on base in Thursday's opening-round loss to Louisiana Tech and stranded 12 more yesterday, going 2-for-12 with runners in scoring position.

“;That was the difference between our success the first 40 games and the last 26, it was clutch hitting and making pitches when we needed to,”; said third baseman Vinnie Catricala, who contributed an RBI single in the fifth that tied the game 2-2.

“;We couldn't string together anything when guys got on. That's what Fresno State did well—they got guys on, strung together a few hits, got a few runs. Hitting's contagious and that's what they did today.”;

In contrast to Hawaii's struggles, Fresno State pounded out 15 hits in winning its eighth straight elimination game dating back to last season's College World Series run.

The total included five two-out hits, highlighted by Tom Mendonca's first-inning homer, Kenny Wise's RBI double in the fourth and Isacc Vivas' two-run triple in the ninth.

“;That's the whole thing, don't give any outs away, and that's what we did today,”; said second baseman Danny Muno, whose one-out seventh-inning homer gave Fresno State the lead for good.

“;You have to battle with every out and with two outs that's when you have to battle the most.”;

The loss punctuated a late-season swoon that will likely leave the Rainbows without a regional berth despite being nationally ranked earlier in the year and holding home-field advantage for the conference tournament.

For his part, Catricala, a draft-eligible junior, said he plans on returning next season, but added, “;I'll wait and see what happens the next couple weeks.”;