Rainbows drop WAC tournament opener

MESA, Ariz. — In the opening game of the 2012 Western Athletic Conference Tournament, the University of Hawai’i baseball team fell to Fresno State, 8-2. With the loss, the Rainbows drop into the losers bracket of the double elimination tournament and will play Thursday at 11 a.m. MT (8 a.m. HT) against either Nevada or Louisiana Tech.

Collin Bennett had three hits and a run scored to lead the ‘Bows, who entered the tournament as the No. 4 seed and now drop to 30-24 overall. Max Duval, Pi’ikea Kitamura, and Zack Swasey each collected a pair of hits.

Aaron Judge was a thorn in Hawai’i’s side for Fresno State, hitting 4-for-5 which included a pair of doubles and a triple to go along with an RBI and a run scored. Patrick Hutcheson and Austin Wynns both had two hits, one run, and one RBI for the Bulldogs, who improve to 26-25 overall.

The Rainbows kick started things when Bennett belted an RBI-triple to the centerfield wall. Kitamura, who had just singled, came around from first base to score on the play.

After three scoreless innings by UH starter Jarrett Arakawa, the Bulldogs finally got on the board to tie the game. Judge doubled to lead off the inning, then was driven home on a Wynns RBI double. Hutcheson then put Fresno State ahead one inning later with a solo homerun over the right centerfield fence.

The wheels then came off for the ‘Bows, as the Bulldogs put six runs on the scoreboard in the sixth inning to take a commanding 8-1 lead. Jordan Brink and Jake Alvarez collected RBI base hits to help Fresno State to a six-run lead before Judge capped the big inning with an RBI-triple.

Arakawa, who was hoping to make amends for last season’s WAC Tournament loss to the Bulldogs, did not have his best stuff and was lifted with no outs in the sixth inning. He was charged with four runs on eight hits, taking the loss to fall to 7-6 on the season.

Thomas Harlan (7-7) earned the win for the Bulldogs. He tossed 6.1 innings allowing two runs on eight hits with five strikeouts.

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