Hawaii rally comes up short


POSTED: Saturday, April 10, 2010

The defending Western Athletic Conference champions had the answer no other team has been able to come up with.

Fresno State put an end to Josh Slaats' dominant run at Les Murakami Stadium, roughing up the right-hander for five runs before holding on for an 8-6 victory last night in the conference opener for both teams.

Dusty Robinson hit a two-run homer and Justin Charles ended Slaats' night with an RBI single in the sixth to give the Bulldogs (18-12, 1-0) their fifth straight win.

A home crowd of 2,741 witnessed the Rainbows (16-13, 0-1) do exactly what they couldn't afford to against the four-time reigning conference champs.

A second-inning error allowed the Bulldogs to score two runs and Slaats (3-2) walked four and hit another in 5 2/3 innings to lose at home for the first time all season.

Lefty Josh Poytress (4-2) earned the win for Fresno, setting career highs with eight strikeouts in 7 1/3 innings.

Robinson reached base five times and scored three runs, and Steve Detwiler went 2-for-3 with a double and two RBIs to lead the Bulldogs.

Kolten Wong went 3-for-4 with a triple and four RBIs and Greg Garcia drove in Jeff Van Doornum with an RBI single in the ninth to extend his hitting streak to seven games. Wong followed with a three-run triple to cut the deficit in half, but David Freitas struck out on three pitches. Wong scored on a wild pitch to make it a two-run game and Collin Bennett walked to bring Kevin Macdonald to the plate as the tying run.

Cody Kendall became the third Bulldogs pitcher of the inning and walked Macdonald and Van Doornum before striking out Sean Montplaisir on a check-swing to earn his second save.

Slaats had his scoreless innings streak at home end at 21 after the Bulldogs got on the board in the second inning. Wong misplayed an easy throw from Garcia at second, allowing FSU to put men on first and second with nobody out. Garrett Weber followed with an RBI single to left and Justin Charles brought in another run on a groundout to gift-wrap FSU a 2-0 lead.

Slaats was all over the place to start the game, falling behind in counts and uncharacteristically walking the leadoff batters in the first two innings. He needed 57 pitches to get through three innings before finding his rhythm toward the end of his second time through the Bulldogs' lineup.

An eight-pitch inning in the fourth got him going and sparked the Rainbows.

Poytress was perfect his first time through the Hawaii lineup. Matt Roquemore led off the fourth with a bouncer up the middle for a base hit. UH then executed its small-ball technique flawlessly, bunting Roquemore over to second and driving him in on a sacrifice fly after he took third on a wild pitch.

After a second straight 1-2-3 innings by Slaats, the Rainbows put together back-to-back singles by Macdonald and Van Doornum with one out. Pi'ikea Kitamura struck out for the second out and Kalani Brackenridge hit a ball hard, but right at Weber, who stepped on the bag at third to end the inning.

Slaats retired seven in a row before trouble arose in the sixth. Jordan Ribera, whose tied for the league lead in homers, lined a base hit to right to start the inning. Robinson worked a walk and Trent Garrison was hit by a pitch while trying to bunt, loading the bases with nobody out.

Weber, who had already hit a run-scoring single, was at the plate, but Slaats got him to hit into a double play that scored a run. He had Detwiler down 1-2, but Detwiler lined a ball past the diving attempt of Kitamura at third to score a run and Charles followed with an RBI single to give the Bulldogs a commanding 5-1 lead.

Hawaii brought the tying run to the plate in the sixth after loading the bases with two outs. After Poytress struck out the first two batters, Wong and Freitas singled and Bennett drew a walk to bring Macdonald to the plate.

Macdonald fell behind 0-2 and fouled off a pitch before crushing a line drive right at the left fielder, who barely moved a step to make the final out of the inning.

The series continues today with a doubleheader beginning at 3:05 p.m.