Rainbows get back into WAC schedule
The baseball team is looking for its first conference win
The Hawaii Rainbows get back to business in the Western Athletic Conference baseball race tomorrow night with the first of three games against the San Jose State Spartans.
If the long-term weather forecast proves correct, Les Murakami Stadium will be playable for the series.
Who: San Jose State at Hawaii
When: Tomorrow and Saturday, 6:35 p.m.; Sunday 1:05 p.m.
Where: Les Murakami Stadium
TV: Live, KFVE, Ch. 5
Radio: Live, KKEA, 1420-AM
Series: UH leads 36-32
"From this point on, and you can talk about taking one game at a time, but you can't hide from the fact that every weekend game we play carries added significance because they are league games," said UH coach Mike Trapasso. "If we keep doing what we have been doing, we'll be OK."
The Rainbows (22-8 overall, 0-2 WAC) are playing an SJSU (19-10, 2-1) team that has been on a roll the last two weeks. The Spartans have won 10 of their last 12 games including taking two of three games from Louisiana Tech after the Bulldogs left Hawaii. The Spartans were supposed to play St. Mary's last Tuesday, but that game was postponed by rain.
Despite the havoc the weather has played with Hawaii's schedule this year, UH coach Mike Trapasso doesn't sense any frustration among his players.
"The only frustration was losing Tuesday's game (vs. UC Santa Barbara to rain) because we have no chance to make it up. Playing the doubleheader (Monday) was important because we obviously needed to play. We kept ourselves sharp and we're ready to go," Trapasso said.
The 'Bows will face a San Jose State team with an excellent earned-run average of 3.54.
The top pitcher is senior left-hander Branden Dewing, who is 5-2 with a 1.22 ERA and three complete games. He has been named WAC Pitcher of the Week twice this season and starts tomorrow.
"He is a three-pitch lefty. The two things I've always liked about him is he is athletic and he competes. You put those three things together and you get outrageous numbers," Trapasso said.
The weekend rotation is completed with two junior college right-handers who joined the Spartans this year. Loren Moneypenny (2-2, 3.81) is the No. 2 starter. He has struck out 41 and walked just nine in 49 2/3 innings. Josh Amberson (3-2, 4.08) starts Sunday's finale.
Even more outstanding is the Spartans' fielding percentage of .983. Most teams playing what would be considered solid defense have a percentage around .960.
"It looks like they make one error every weekend. They are incredible defensively," Trapasso said. "That is Sam's (Piraro, SJSU head coach) deal. I think he is one of the most underrated coaches in the country because of what his guys do fundamentally. And, they do it every year."
The Spartans rarely hit home runs (three), but spray line drives to all fields, and that has resulted in 46 doubles.
Hawaii is led offensively by Matt Inouye (.418), Justin Frash (.402) and Luis Avila (.343 and a team-leading 31 RBIs).
Esteban Lopez also has started to produce more consistently at the plate, raising his average to .271.
"Este just takes a while to get going. We've seen that for two years now," Trapasso said. "He is a streak guy, but his streaks are long. He is really swinging the bat well now."
The Rainbows rotation will include Steven Wright (4-2, 3.02) tomorrow, Ian Harrington (3-1, 3.75) on Saturday and Justin Costi (4-0, 4.08) on Sunday.
UH third baseman Jon Hee has been tentatively cleared to play this weekend, pending the results of one more test today. If Hee is available, he will play third and Frash will be back at designated hitter.
The Spartans will be without starting first baseman Brandon Fromm, the team RBI leader (19), who is out with a right wrist injury, and infielder Ricky Sauceda, out with a right shoulder injury.
Note: Chris Balatico, a Mililani graduate who transferred to SJSU last fall from Hartnell College, has appeared in 15 games. The outfielder/left-handed reliever is hitting .182, has a 1-0 record and an 8.44 ERA.