Winning ugly was the name of the game Friday night at Les Murakami Stadium, as the Rainbow Warriors won an error-filled three-hit affair over the Washington State Cougars 4-2 to even the series at one win apiece.
“Winning ugly is an interesting way to putting it,” head coach Mike Trapasso said. “You’re not going to win many games when you get outhit 11-3, but we did that because we played good defense, and we didn’t walk anybody.”
A staple for Hawaii baseball early in this season has been mistake-free baseball. In five of the team’s first seven games, the ‘Bows (6-2) finished without an error, with each of the five error-free efforts correlating to wins. Coming into tonight’s game, Hawaii had just two errors on the season, one in the series opener against North Dakota State, and one in Thursday’s series opener against Washington. Both errors came in the ‘Bows’ only losses on the young season.
Things played out a bit differently Friday. The Rainbow Warriors, despite playing excellent defense for over seven innings, picked up their first multi-error game of the season. Both errors came in the late game, with the ‘Bows already holding on to a 4-0 lead, and ultimately had no effect on the result except to make the last two innings a little more interesting.
“The reality was we played great defense for seven innings,” Trapasso said. “Made tremendous plays behind Aaron (starter Davenport), who just pounded the zone and got ground balls. We really showed what kind of defensive club we can be. And then we made two errors late there that were really uncharacteristic for us, because they were errors that were caused by trying to do too much by rushing. That’s the one thing we preach daily, to be quick but don’t hurry. To make sure you have your internal clock and take your time. That’s a lesson learned for us tonight.”
“We didn’t play as good late in the game defensively, but we were just resilient,” shortstop Kole Kaler added. “A lot of good plays. Alex Baeza helped us a lot tonight.”
On the flip side, Washington State committed three errors, one more than the ‘Bows. The Rainbow Warriors made the most of the Cougar errors, as three of the four Hawaii runs resulted from an earlier error in the inning.
“It’s huge,” catcher Tyler Murray said about capitalizing on Washington State’s errors. “Anytime the other team makes an error, we try to capitalize big time. That’s when they’re vulnerable. As a team, we take advantage of that, and we do a very good job of that.”
Murray, a redshirt senior, along with redshirt junior Baeza were defensive standouts for the ‘Bows. Murray made several impressive plays from his catcher position, including a quick turnaround throw to first base on a WSU bunt attempt. Meanwhile, Baeza, the one on the receiving end of the throw, racked up a team-best 10 putouts.
Davenport led the defensive effort with a strong showing on the mound, pitching 7 1/3 innings, including seven shutout innings. He gave up 10 hits, with two runs (one earned), along with three strikeouts and no walks.
“(Davenport) pitched very well. He kept us in the game. Its very fun to play defense behind a guy like Aaron,” Kaler said.
Hawaii returns to the LMS to take on Washington State in Game 3 of the series Saturday night.