Rainbows take on LaTech
Rainbows return home to play more Bulldogs
Hawaii opens a key three-game baseball series against Louisiana Tech tomorrow at Les Murakami Stadium. The Rainbows are 6-6 in the Western Athletic Conference, while the Bulldogs lead the league at 9-3.
"(The series is) two-fold in its importance," UH coach Mike Trapasso said.
"No. 1, every series from this point is big because we're at the halfway point. And if we can play well and win the series we're back in the hunt."
Louisiana Tech at Hawaii
» Tomorrow and Saturday (6:35 p.m.), Sunday (1:05 p.m.)
» Les Murakami Stadium
» TV: KFVE (Ch. 5)
» Radio: KKEA (1420-AM)
UH must bounce back from a two-week roadtrip in which it went 3-4, and lost the last two games to Fresno State, 6-5 and 4-3, both on ninth-inning hits by the hosts.
Mark Rodrigues (7-2, 3.22) starts for Hawaii in tomorrow's series opener against Louisana Tech's Luke Burnett (4-5, 3.79).
It's only a couple of miles more from Fresno to San Jose than it is from Stockton to Fresno. But both two-hour bus rides seemed like long ones for Hawaii last week, after the Rainbows lost at Pacific and then dropped a doubleheader against their Western Athletic Conference rivals at Fresno State.
Some optimism had returned yesterday, though, as UH prepared for its series against Louisiana Tech that starts tomorrow at Les Murakami Stadium. The Rainbows are 20-10 at home, but only .500 on the road after going 3-4 on the just-completed two-week trip.
"You could definitely feel depressed about it," said senior left-hander Mark Rodrigues, who starts tomorrow. "But Coach (Mike Trapasso) gave us a speech about working hard this week and just coming out and competing. Just battle the whole nine innings for three games."
UH (25-15, 6-6) is taking on the WAC leader. Louisiana Tech (29-14, 9-3) has basically out-bashed its opposition, batting .323 and hitting 55 homers. The Rainbows have beaten the Bulldogs in their last six meetings, but Louisiana Tech took the series here last year.
"They were real young last year and their guys have another year of maturity. It's shown," Hawaii first baseman Kris Sanchez said. "They've put up some pretty awesome offensive numbers. Our pitchers just have to come out this week and throw strikes. I like our chances."
Sanchez has done some prolific slugging of his own. He's batting .397 in 146 at-bats, with 48 RBIs. His eight homers are dwarfed by the 19 by LaTech outfielder Brian Rike (second in the nation), but Rike plays his home games in a much more slugger-friendly park than does Sanchez.
Trapasso said he will stay with his revised rotation of Rodrigues (7-2, 3.22), Josh Schneider (3-2, 2.86) and Ian Harrington (5-5, 4.01). Before last week, UH's usual order was Harrington, Rodrigues, Schneider.
"Friday, Saturday or Sunday, you just have to have the mentality that you're going to go out there and pitch, whatever day it is," Rodrigues said. "Rotation-wise, it shouldn't matter to a pitcher. It's exciting to go out there on the first night, but you gotta back it up, too."
LaTech counters with Luke Burnett (4-5, 3.79), Ryan Rupert (3-1, 6.70) and Dylan Moseley (6-3, 2.59)
Trapasso said yesterday he hadn't decided whether Justin Frash or Vinnie Catricala will start at third base (the other will likely DH).
"They'll probably split it," he said.
Frash had started every game (and 37 of 39 at third) before opening the second game Friday on the bench. He had misplayed a grounder into a hit during FSU's winning rally in the first game.
TICKETS AND PROMOTION
Tickets are $7 for blue and orange section seats, $5 for seniors and $3 for students and children in the red section.
A receipt for a purchase of at least eight gallons of Chevron gas can be redeemed for two tickets in the upper level for tomorrow's game.