Rainbows looking forward to lengthy California road trip
Hawaii baseball coach Mike Trapasso was asked what's worse -- a long plane ride, or a long bus ride.
"Neither," he answered yesterday, on the eve of the Rainbows' 13-day, seven-game voyage to California and back. "Neither is bad. I do generally like bus rides better than plane rides. It depends on where you're sitting. Where I'm sitting tomorrow, it'll be fine."
While a frequent flyer first-class upgrade makes the skies friendlier, Trapasso can relax in the knowledge that his team doesn't have a recent history of falling apart away from the home ballyard.
'Bows hope to keep winning on the road
Road sweet road.
Hawaii went 16-5 at their opponents' ballparks last year, and won 2-of-3 at UC Santa Barbara earlier this season.
Coach Mike Trapasso says he expects the Rainbows (22-11, 3-3 WAC) to maintain their winning ways on the road this year, as they pack for a seven-game, 13-day swing through northern California.
"I expect us to play well. For us it doesn't matter, home or road. It's all the same," Trapasso said. "I think (road) excuses are just self-fulfilling prophecies that set yourself up for failure."
UH plays three games at Sacramento State (9-20, 4-5 WAC) starting tomorrow, one at Pacific in Stockton next Tuesday, and three more at Fresno State at the end of next week.
Hawaii is 19-5 at opponents' fields the past two seasons. And even though the Rainbows are 20-10 at Les Murakami Stadium in 2007, get-away day couldn't come soon enough for Trapasso after a 21-game homestand.
"There are days I'd rather play on the road than home because you're able to eliminate distractions when you go on the road, and sometimes teams can come closer together," Trapasso said. "This homestand was too long. You almost get too comfortable. I expect us to go out and play good baseball, with the only difference is we hit first."
The three games at Sacramento State (9-20, 4-5 WAC) starting tomorrow, one at Pacific next Tuesday and three more at Fresno State at the end of next week are actually a homecoming for several UH players with California roots.
Center fielder Brandon Haislet is from Sacramento and played at Cosumnes River College last year, as did right fielder Evan Zimny.
"We're probably going to have a barbecue at my place on Saturday and I know the coaches are making plans to go to a River Cats (minor league) game on Sunday," said Haislet, who is third on the Rainbows with a .339 batting average and leads with 10 stolen bases. "But mostly, we just want to go out there, play some good baseball and get some wins. And enjoy it."
Haislet said he played at Hornet Field on an all-star team when he was a teenager.
"It's kind of similar (to Murakami Stadium), it has large gaps so hopefully it'll give us an advantage," Haislet said. "If we just play the game we've been playing and pick up where we left off Sunday we should be OK."
UH lost two of three against San Jose State last weekend, but looked good in Sunday's 6-0 win.
Left-hander Ian Harrington (4-5, 3.93) starts tomorrow for Hawaii against the Hornets' Alvaro Orozco (4-3, 4.47), a righty. Harrington is already on the mainland, attending funeral services for a close family friend.
Orozco has a shutout victory over Stanford to his credit.
On Friday, righty Josh Schneider (3-1, 1.91) goes up against Sac State's Trevor York (1-5, 6.65). Schneider pitched a five-hit shutout against San Jose State last Sunday, and was aided by five UH double plays.
Trapasso moved Schneider up from his usual No. 3 spot in the rotation to give Mark Rodrigues (6-2, 2.68) another day of rest. Rodrigues throws on Saturday against lefty Mick Joyce (1-3, 6.54).
First baseman Gabe Jacobo (.333, 5 HR, 22 RBIs), right fielder Montana Dye (.330, 15 RBIs) and left fielder Ryan Blair (.308, 20 RBIs, 10 SB) lead the Hornets offense.
First baseman Kris Sanchez (.390, 5 HR, 36 RBIs), third baseman Justin Frash (.340, .489 OBP, 28 R) and Haislet continue to pace the Hawaii attack.
Trapasso said UH will be taking 26 players on the road, including 12 pitchers.
"We're going to play a midweek game, so that'll be a couple of arms," he said. "Which is good, because we have some guys who haven't thrown a lot and we want to keep those guys sharp."
Senior lefty Jeff Soskin has thrown just three innings in three games, but could see some action. He knew going into the season his role would be mostly situational -- meaning appearances might be rare.
"You have to be prepared every day to go in to pitch," said Soskin, whose family lives in Alameda, Calif., and will be able to make all seven games. "If my name's called, I just have to be ready to go."
Soskin and the rest of the Rainbows will spend some of their time on the road in study halls, and will have an academic advisor on the trip. Eight of them will be spending free time proposing trades in their fantasy baseball league.
"My team's good," Soskin said. "Hopefully Roger Clemens will come through. I'm not a big fan, but he's definitely useful in a fantasy league. Barry Zito hurt me a little bit today. I'm an A's fan. But as a left-handed pitcher, I'm good with Barry whether he's with the Giants or the A's."
Haislet doesn't have a team in the league.
"I just like watching a game and not worrying about it too much," he said. "But I like to give the guys who are in it a hard time when their teams are doing bad."
Two juniors who played high school ball in Hawaii have seen limited action for the Hornets. Catcher Brett Tanigawa
(Moanalua) is hitting .190 in 21 at-bats. Infielder Taylor Watanabe
(Aiea) is 1-for-6 in five games. ... Rainbows senior pitcher Rich Olsen
's rehab from Tommy John reconstructive elbow surgery is progressing well, but he will not pitch this year. UH will appeal for a sixth season of eligibility, as it did for Rodrigues in a similar situation. ... Nate Young
is batting .208, but he tied a UH school record with 10 assists at shortstop Sunday. Eli Christensen
is batting .275 and has made 11 errors in 26 starts compared to four in 16 starts for Young. "We have two starting shortstops," Trapasso said. ... UH's 2.71 team ERA ranks somewhere in the top five in the nation, Trapasso said. Official NCAA stats leaders come out next week.