Star-Bulletin Sports


Wednesday, May 26, 1999


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



UH


’Bows took step
toward respectability

But it will take a return to
the NCAA tournament for the
program's rebound to be
considered complete

By Al Chase
Star-Bulletin

Tapa

The success that resulted in Hawaii qualifying for the 1999 Western Athletic Conference baseball tournament for the first time since 1992 was one step in bringing the Rainbow program back to the level of respect enjoyed for so many seasons.

Ascending the respectability ladder further requires not being satisfied with relying on a late-season run to make the tournament, but qualifying early and making a run for first place.

Reaching a position of prominence in the WAC would have national implications and take the "maybe" from Hawaii's NCAA tournament hopes.

Rainbow head coach Les Murakami has signed 10 players for next season and will sign more if they fill some of the needs exposed this past season.

"Next year we're going to get better talent. We're going to have to get better talent in order to compete with Rice," Murakami said. "Rice is the target."

The Owls have set a standard for excellence in their three WAC seasons and there is little chance that will change.

"They do the best job of recruiting," said Murakami.

Before the 1999 season began, Murakami said the key was pitching. He was right. Carrying the most hurlers ever allowed Murakami to use a quick hook for ineffective performers, which proved successful. Sixteen pitchers combined for 213 appearances.

The staff lowered its earned run average from 5.35 (1998) to 4.02, issued 78 fewer walks and struck out 43 more opponents. The UH pitchers lowered the opposing batting average from .310 (1998) to .269.

Two pitchers from Blinn Junior College with the potential to move into the starting rotation and one prep pitcher have been signed for next season.

One obvious shortcoming was a lack of power this past season. The Rainbows did not have a player who could change the complexion of a game with one swing of the bat.

"We strike out a lot for a team that doesn't hit home runs (16). Our biggest thing is to get power guys," said Murakami.

He has signed three catchers and a catcher/third baseman that should help solve that problem. He also would like to sign a power-hitting outfielder.

"If I can get somebody who I know right now, guaranteed can play, I'll sign him. I'll sign a shortstop with juice, and, I'm not going under the assumption that some of these guys (we've signed) won't get drafted and turn pro."

Another need is middle infielders. Second baseman Michael Dartt is a senior, and junior shortstop Corey Miller said he'll sign if drafted as a pitcher. Four infielders have signed, providing competition for the returnees.

"Don't be surprised if all these guys that played this year are not playing next year. They were all what we call fillers. They played their hearts out and I can't take anything away from them. They played because some guys didn't pan out and others got hurt.

"More power to them. They worked hard and did all these things. I'm not saying they won't do it again. They might do it again."

Working hard, playing hard, not giving up, shrugging off defeats with renewed resolve to get better were all trademarks of the 1999 Rainbows. They were a team without marquee players, a team of average, but solid baseball players who did the things they were capable of doing. They had to play as a team to win.

"I can say we've never had any team that gave more than this team," Murakami said. "Even when we lost, they never lingered on it. They just went out and worked harder."

There were some pleasant performances this season. Sean Takamori, a regular for the first time, led the 'Bows in hitting (.363), runs scored (58), hits (77), walks (40) and stolen bases (34).

Scooter Martines, who really was a freshman in terms of collegiate competition after batting just 11 times at Texas Tech in 1998, hit .355 and led UH with 46 runs batted in. He struggled with the breaking pitch but showed signs of ending that struggle toward season's end.

"The biggest surprise was Wakon Childers. We didn't know what he could do when he came in," said Murakami.

Childers spent most of his time last fall working in the outfield since all three positions were up for grabs. But, when Richard Snider couldn't do the job as closer, Childers took over.

"We had to settle on somebody who could throw strikes. It was Wakon," said Murakami.

The strong performances down the stretch by left-hander Dusty Bergman, who would have been the No. 1 starter had UH gone to a regional, pleased Murakami.

"At the end he became almost a dominant pitcher. He was getting better every outing and feeling confident. If he doesn't sign and with another year of maturity, he could be our dominant pitcher next year."

The 1999 Rainbows (37-20) had the most wins since the 1992 team went 49-14. The first season in the new millennium provides Hawaii an opportunity to improve on that victory total and return to the WAC's upper echelon.

An NCAA tournament appearance will be the proof.

HAWAII RAINBOWS STATISTICS

Season record: Overall 37-20, WAC 15-14, Home 26-10, Away 10-7, Neutral 1-3

Category leaders in red.

Batting

											Bat.		Slug.
Player			G	AB	R	H	2B	3B	HR	RBI	Avg.	TB	Pct.	BB	SO	SB
Sean Takamori		57	212	58	77	8	2	0	33	.363	89	.420	40	30	34
Jamie Aloy		48	179	50	64	17	2	4	39	.358	97	.542	35	43	4
Scooter Martines	44	186	29	66	11	2	1	46	.355	84	.452	10	27	1
Lon Tanigawa		9	12	4	4	0	1	0	2	.333	6	.500	0	2	0
Kramer Aoki		6	6	2	2	0	1	0	1	.333	4	.667	1	1	0
James Polk		7	3	0	1	0	0	0	1	.333	1	.333	0	1	0
Rory Pico		6	3	0	1	0	0	0	0	.333	1	.333	2	1	0
Michael Dartt		52	203	46	66	9	3	0	34	.325	81	.399	22	28	13
Tracy Nakano		52	174	28	55	11	2	3	45	.316	79	.454	27	19	1
Lars Hansen		42	125	23	39	6	4	1	21	.312	56	.448	8	22	3
Lane Nogawa		38	139	25	42	4	1	0	22	.302	48	.345	10	30	0
Kenn Wakakuwa		55	211	35	62	7	2	1	36	.294	76	.360	11	21	4
Corey Miller		47	152	33	42	8	3	3	21	.276	65	.428	21	19	3
Rah-Miel Mitchell	38	102	23	28	5	2	1	18	.275	40	.392	15	22	7
Darin Baker		33	66	17	16	3	2	1	11	.242	26	.394	9	22	0
Wakon Childers		8	21	2	5	1	0	0	1	.238	6	.286	1	1	0
Matt Wheeler		32	100	18	23	2	2	0	9	.230	29	.290	11	25	0
Wade Taguchi		17	20	5	4	0	0	1	3	.200	7	.350	1	6	0
Derek Honma		31	24	5	4	0	1	0	3	.167	6	.250	3	7	0
Jeremy Stegmaier	5	7	1	1	0	0	0	2	.143	1	.143	0	3	0
Jason Castro		4	3	0	0	0	0	0	2	.000	0	.000	0	0	0
	Hawaii Totals	57	1,948	404	602	92	30	16	351	.309	802	.412	228	330	70
	Opponent Totals	57	1,983	292	533	112	31	29	268	.269	794	.400	172	337	37
Left on base: Hawaii 465. Opponents 432. Double Plays: Hawaii 53. Opponents 55. Triple Plays: Hawaii 1, Opponents 0.

Pitching

Player		G	GS	CG	W	L	Pct.	IP	H	BB	SO	R	ER	ERA
Chad Giannetti	3	0	0	0	0	.000	2.1	1	1	2	0	0	0.00
Michael Sakaino	1	0	0	0	0	.000	1.0	2	0	0	0	0	0.00
Corey Miller	4	0	0	1	0	1.000	7.0	3	3	6	1	1	1.29
Patrick McNair	3	1	0	0	0	.000	5.0	4	4	4	2	1	1.80
Wakon Childers	20	0	0	2	0	1.000	23.2	23	8	25	7	5	1.71
Randon Ho	15	10	0	6	3	.667	63.0	57	27	55	28	18	2.20
Troy Yoshimasu	9	9	0	6	0	1.000	43.1	36	18	15	17	15	3.12
Matt Wheeler	7	2	0	1	1	.500	16.1	12	3	12	7	6	2.45
Ian Jones	30	1	0	2	0	1.000	42.2	44	15	23	23	19	4.07
Rich Snider	27	9	1	6	6	.500	80.2	85	28	48	44	38	4.02
Dusty Bergman	17	9	1	4	4	.500	68.1	74	24	47	44	33	4.33
Jamie Aloy	15	15	1	7	6	.538	89.1	101	14	63	62	47	4.55
Gavin Garrick	15	0	0	0	0	.000	17.2	23	7	7	14	10	5.09
Ken Mackenzie	16	0	0	2	0	1.000	14.1	26	2	10	16	9	5.93
Aaron Pribble	11	0	0	0	0	.000	9.1	15	4	6	6	6	6.48
Sean Yamashita	12	1	0	0	0	.000	20.0	18	12	14	15	14	5.68
Ikaika Baptista	6	0	0	0	0	.000	5.1	5	2	0	4	4	5.40
Grant Sato	2	0	0	0	0	.000	1.2	4	0	0	2	2	10.78
Hawaii Totals		57	3	37	20	.649	511.0	533	172	337	292	228	4.02
Opponent Totals		57	6	20	37	.351	491.0	602	228	330	404	321	5.88
Saves (14): Snider 6, Childers 6, Ho 1, Miller 1. Opponents 9.



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