JAMM AQUINO / JAQUINO@STARBULLETIN.COM
Hawaii's Matt Inouye, seen here being thrown out at second against San Diego State, has missed four straight games.
Rainbows test out Trojans' ranking
The Hawaii Rainbows play their first ranked team of the season when they host Baseball America No. 24 Southern California Trojans for three games this weekend.
"The Trojans have played an outstanding schedule (ranked fourth-toughest by Boydsworld.com). This series will be a great challenge for us and a great opportunity for us," UH coach Mike Trapasso said.
USC AT HAWAII
When: Tomorrow and Saturday, 6:35 p.m., Sunday 1:05 p.m.
Where: Les Murakami Stadium
TV: Tomorrow and Sunday, live, KFVE, Channel 5
Radio: All games live, KKEA, 1420-AM
Tickets: $7 orange and blue sections; $6 red section; $5 seniors, and $3 students ages 4-18, UH students in the red section.
Notes: USC is picked to finish second in the Pac-10 this year behind Oregon State.
The Trojans' team batting average is .351. They are led by outfielder Cyle Hankerd, who is 24-for-48 (.500), and third baseman Matt Cusick, who is batting .417 (20-for-48).
USC (7-5) was swept in a three-game series by Long Beach State to start the season, but won seven of eight before losing 6-1 to San Diego State on Tuesday night.
"Obviously they are a very good club. They are nationally ranked and have one the top two or three pitchers in the country," Trapasso said.
Trapasso was referring to junior right-hander Ian Kennedy, who was named the Pac-10 Pitcher of the Week and is considered likely to be a first-round draft pick in June. He pitched 8 2/3 innings of no-hit ball against Kansas last Friday before giving up a single to center.
In that game Kennedy fanned 13, the 10th time in his career he has struck out 10 or more batters in a game. He has 308 career strikeouts.
Kennedy (2-1, 1.25 earned-run average) will be matched up against Hawaii junior right Steven Wright (2-0, 1.17 ERA) in tomorrow's series opener.
The two are good friends and played together on a traveling team since they were 15. The three years before that they played against each other.
"I haven't talked to him in a while, but we're cool," Wright said. "He has pinpoint accuracy and good movement on his pitches. His offspeed is pretty good, too. He is an All-American pitcher."
It makes no difference to Wright who he opposes.
"I'll just prepare the way I have the last three starts," he said.
The Rainbows (9-2) are coming off a three-game sweep of Loyola Marymount and have a five-game winning streak.
Trapasso will keep his pitching rotation the same, with left-handers Ian Harrington (1-1, 3.38 ERA) and Mark Rodrigues (1-0, 3.94) starting Saturday and Sunday.
USC coach Mike Gillespie counters with right-hander Ryan Cook (0-1, 7.16) on Saturday and left-hander Tommy Milone (3-0, 2.57) on Sunday.
Rodrigues was taken out of last Sunday's game because of difficulty staying loose.
"I talked with Mark on Monday and he said he was fine," Trapasso said.
There also is the possibility right fielder Matt Inouye will play this week. He has missed the last four games since pulling a muscle in his back making a throw to home in the final UC Irvine game.
"We're hopeful. When you are talking about muscle strain in your back or side under the rib cage you are lucky if your are back within four to six weeks," Trapasso said. "If we are able to get Matt back, we're in good shape."
The 'Bows also need shortstop Joe Spiers to find his batting eye at the plate. The sophomore has a .172 batting average. He also only played a game and a half against LMU after committing three fielding errors and was replaced by freshman Nate Young.
"Joe struggled on grass, but he will be all right on turf. We need him to be Joe Spiers," Trapasso said.
Notes: The Trojans have been to the NCAA Tournament 15 of the last 19 years and won their 12th title in 1998. ... David Parrow, a freshman right-hander from Kamehameha, has appeared in six games for USC and has a 5.40 earned-run average. He has pitched 6 2/3 innings, allowed eight hits and four earned runs, walked four and struck out five.