Star-Bulletin Sports

Thursday, January 21, 1999

R A I N B O W _ B A S E B A L L


Pitching is key to
’Bow success in ’99

By Al Chase


The 1999 Hawaii Rainbow baseball team is solid in the infield, green in the outfield and loaded with pitchers who hold the key to success this season.

"I think we shored up our defense in the infield just by the fact that we picked up Cory Miller. He's a bona fide shortstop and I think he will help us immediately," Hawaii head baseball coach Les Murakami said.

"I think we're pretty deep in pitching. Whether it's a strength or not is another thing. We've got a lot of arms, although some of them are relatively young."

Miller's arrival from Fresno City College, where he redshirted last season, allows senior Michael Dartt to move to second base.

"Dartt played the whole summer at second. He's comfortable there and I think he'll hit better because of that," Murakami said.

Senior Matt Wheeler returns at third base after hitting .297 with 45 RBIs a year ago. Jamie Aloy will be at first base when the junior left-hander isn't pitching or taking a turn in the outfield.

Senior Lars Hansen, junior Kenn Wakakuwa and sophomore Scooter Martines all are capable of playing first when needed.

"Defensively they are close. Hansen was a first baseman when he came here, Wakakuwa is just a good athlete and Martines played there during the summer," Murakami said.

"We are looking at a lot of options. We have more than we've had on any other team because so many players can play multiple positions. It's going to come down to whoever hits."

Wakakuwa or Hansen will start behind the plate, with sophomore Kramer Aoki slated to see duty as a late-inning defensive specialist. Aoki is the best at catch-and-release and proved it by shutting down San Diego State's running game a year ago.

Aloy, senior left-hander Troy Yoshimasu and junior left-hander Randon Ho will start this weekend's series against UCLA. Junior left-hander Dusty Bergman and freshman right-hander Sean Yamashita also should challenge for starting roles this season.

"Bergman throws the hardest but needs to have more command of his pitches, be more consistent," Murakami said. "He had this in fall practice, but lost it during vacation. I think he'll come back. Yamashita has all the makings of becoming a very good pitcher. He also needs a little more command."

The closing responsibilities belong to junior college transfers Rich Snider and Wakon Childers. Both are right-handers and throw in the high 80s. Snider varies his offerings with a changeup and breaking pitch and Childers has a "great slider" according to Murakami. Having two closers is a luxury the Rainbows have rarely experienced over the years.

There are a host of candidates for middle relief, or as Murakami calls the, "one-inning pitchers."

Sophomore right-hander Ian Jones, freshman left-hander Aaron Pribble, freshman right-hander Chad Giannetti, junior right-hander Ikaika Baptista, junior left-hander Michael Sakaino and senior right-hander Ken Mackenzie have early membership in the club. Mackenzie is being groomed for a specific role.

"When someone gets tired and there are runners on, we want Mackenzie to come in and get us out of the inning. He can do that every day," Murakami said.

Sean Takamori is the only returning outfielder and he played sparingly last season. Martines, Aloy and three newcomers -- Childers, junior Darin Baker and freshman Rah-Miel Mitchell -- will get starts in Rainbow Stadium's vast outfield.

"Martines is very young, but a good athlete. Baker can go after the ball. Mitchell can go get a ball, but has trouble with balls hit right at him." Murakami said. "Takamori may be the best going after balls, but doesn't have a strong arm. But on a windy day, you gotta play him because he has good speed and great judgement on balls. Aloy has average speed and an average arm for an outfielder, but great instinct at going for a ball."

There are just 15 nonconference games before the first Western Athletic Conference series. UH can suit up 25 players for a conference series. With 37 on the roster, time is short for any player looking to see a lot of action the last half of the season.

PICK 'EM: Hawaii was picked to finish fourth in the Western Athletic Conference preseason poll behind Rice, Fresno State and San Diego State. Texas Christian, Nevada-Las Vegas, San Jose State, New Mexico, Brigham Young, Utah and Air Force follow UH.


Hawaii Rainbows 1999 schedule


22: UCLA, 6:35 p.m. 23: UCLA, 1:05 p.m. 24: UCLA, 3:05 p.m. 28: California, 6:35 p.m. 29: California, 7:05 p.m. 30: California, 6:05 p.m.


4: Cal State Sacramento, 6:35 p.m. 5: Cal State Sacramento, 6:35 p.m. 6: Cal State Sacramento, 1:05 p.m. 12: St. Mary's (Calif.), 6:35 p.m. 13: St. Mary's, 6:05 p.m. 14: St. Mary's, 3:05 p.m. 19: Wichita State, 7:05 p.m. 20: Wichita State, 3:05 p.m. 21: Wichita State, 1:05 p.m. 26: at Texas Christian. 27: at Texas Christian. 28: at Texas Christian.


4: Brigham Young, 7:05 p.m. 5: Brigham Young, 6:35 p.m. 6: Brigham Young, 1:05 p.m. 12: at San Jose State. 13: at San Jose State. 14: at San Jose State. 19: Fresno State, 6:35 p.m. 20: Fresno State, 1:05 p.m. 21: Fresno State, 3:05 p.m. 22-28: 24th Rainbow Easter Baseball Tournament with Fresno State, Hawaii-Hilo, Hawaii Pacific, Northwestern, Nittaidai (Japan) and Hawaii.


1: Nevada-Las Vegas, 7:05 p.m. 2: Nevada-Las Vegas, 7:05 p.m. 3: Nevada-Las Vegas, 1:05 p.m. 6: at Air Force. 7: at Air Force. 8: at Air Force. 16: Hawaii-Hilo, 6:35 p.m. 17: vs. Hawaii-Hilo, noon, Maui's War Memorial Stadium. 18: at Hawaii-Hilo, 1 p.m., Francis Wong Stadium. 23: Rice, 7:05 p.m. 24: Rice, 1:05 p.m. 25: Rice, 12:35 p.m. 29: at Utah. 30: at Utah.


1: at Utah. 4: at San Diego. 6: at San Diego State. 7: at San Diego State. 8: at San Diego State. 14: New Mexico, 7:05 p.m. 15: New Mexico, 7:05 p.m. 16: New Mexico, 7:05 p.m. 18-22: WAC Tournament at site TBA.

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