'Bows looking to stay focused
This weekend's opponent, NMSU, has a poor record, but Hawaii cannot afford a letdown
The Hawaii baseball team reached the .500 plateau with two victories at Nevada last weekend. Now the Rainbows' focus is to continue their upward advance with the start of the second half of the Western Athletic Conference schedule.
Who: New Mexico State at Hawaii
When: Tomorrow, 6:35 p.m.; Saturday, 5:30 p.m.; Sunday, 1:05 p.m.
Where: Les Murakami Stadium
TV: Tomorrow and Sunday, live, KFVE, Ch. 5
Radio: Tomorrow and Sunday, live; Saturday, live updates, KKEA, 1420-AM
Hawaii (27-11, 5-5) has six home games remaining, starting with a three-game series against the New Mexico State Aggies opening tomorrow night at Les Murakami Stadium.
The Aggies (14-26, 1-8) are in their first season in the conference. They are 12-17 at home and 3-9 away from Presley Askew Field.
The Rainbows have to ignore the Aggies' record.
"Regardless of what New Mexico State's record is, that will have no bearing on how our kids approach this series. We know we can't afford to have an off weekend the rest of the season if we want to go to postseason if we don't win the WAC tournament," Hawaii coach Mike Trapasso said.
The Aggies score runs (309) and have a team batting average of .302, but give runs up (360). The team earned-run average is 8.06, but one has to remember the Aggie pitchers have worked 29 games in a light-air park.
The Rainbows are hitting .298 as a team and have a solid 3.86 team ERA.
Both teams' numbers reflect their home fields.
The Aggies' leading hitter -- Luke Hopkins, with a .431
batting average -- has not played since injuring a hamstring April 1, and is doubtful for the series.
Shortstop Abe Aguirre is batting .367 and leads the conference with 58 hits. Center fielder and leadoff hitter Vince Rodden tops the WAC in stolen bases (29) and walks (41), one more than UH's Robbie Wilder.
Justin Frash, the WAC Hitter of the Week, continues to lead the 'Bows and is second in the conference with a .398 average.
"We have to play with our highest level of intensity. Obviously this is not easy, but the good clubs find a way. If we want to finish strong, then we have to do it," Trapasso said.
"Our guys understand the situation. Losing three games to rain makes it more imperative to go out and win every game we play."
The 'Bows will go with the same starting rotation of Steven Wright (6-2, 3.12), Justin Costi (4-1, 4.78) and Ian Harrington (4-2, 4.37).
New Mexico State counters with Kyle McFadden (1-4, 7.39) and Jason Conner (2-2, 5.86) in the first two games with the third starter to be announced.
The Rainbows have lost junior right-hander Rich Olsen for the rest of the season with an injury to his right elbow. The Iolani graduate felt a pop in the elbow three weeks ago and has not pitched since taking himself out of the game against San Jose State on March 31. He had an MRI on Monday and may need surgery.
Olsen was 1-0 with one save and a 1.59 earned-run average in 17 innings of relief work. He had held opponents to a .190 batting average.
On a positive note, Myles Ioane, the left-hander from Waiakea, has been cleared to play after recovering from a stress fracture in his left elbow and will join the bullpen corps.
Game time changed:
Saturday's game, originally scheduled for 6:35 p.m., has been moved up to 5:30 due to the Hawaii men's volleyball MPSF playoff match that same night. KFVE will televise the volleyball match instead, and KKEA will broadcast the start of the baseball game before switching to volleyball and baseball updates.
In the latest Boyd's World unofficial RPI rankings of all NCAA Division I teams, four WAC teams are in the top 64 (the number of teams that participate in the NCAA tournament). Hawaii is 26th, Fresno State is next at 32, followed by Louisiana Tech (43) and San Jose State (62).
Tomorrow is the first meeting between UH and NMSU. ... Steven Wright leads the WAC in strikeouts (79) and opposing batting average (.214). ... Darrell Fisherbaugh is the conference saves leader with seven.