'Bows expect more excitement playing 'Pack
The Rainbows hit the road to face Nevada
The last time Hawaii and Nevada met in baseball, the Rainbows and Wolf Pack battled back and forth in a thrilling series that included a walk-off homer by UH's Evan Zimny and two other games decided by one run.
Host Hawaii won the series, two games to one.
Now UH visits Reno. If the Rainbows can win one of the three games starting tomorrow, they clinch a spot in the Western Athletic Conference tournament. (If they don't, they have three more chances to do so at home against Fresno State.)
"Every game's important from here on out," Zimny said. "We've been playing pretty well, we just have to keep that going basically."
Evan Zimny hasn't enjoyed a great season at the plate, batting .246. But the Hawaii right fielder turned in the Rainbows' most spectacular at-bat of the year seven weeks ago.
Zimny cracked a three-run, walk-off homer to beat Nevada 5-3 at Les Murakami Stadium on March 23, setting the tone for the most exciting series of the season and getting the Rainbows' Western Athletic Conference season started on a winning note.
Nevada won the middle game 5-4 as a late UH rally fell short, and Hawaii won by the same score Sunday when it scored twice in the bottom of the eighth.
HAWAII AT NEVADA
When: Tomorrow-Monday, 3 p.m. each day
Where: Peccole Park, Reno, Nev.
Radio: KKEA, 1420-AM
Zimny said he expects more excitement this weekend when Hawaii (31-19, 9-9 WAC) visits Nevada (28-22, 11-7) at Peccole Park in Reno. The teams play tomorrow, Sunday and Monday.
"They've been playing really well and we've been playing really well," Zimny said before yesterday's practice. "So there's no reason to think it will be anything different this time. Couple of one-run ballgames, some close ones. It'll probably be even more of a dogfight when we go there, some good games, I think."
Nevada has been steady, winning its last three WAC series. The Wolf Pack also edged Santa Clara 9-8 on Tuesday.
"They're probably the hottest teams in the league," said UH coach Mike Trapasso, who left the islands early to recruit in California. "I expect a pretty good effort out of their pitchers. They're a different team when they play at home and we're going to really have to play our best to win this series."
Peccole Park is known as a hitters' paradise. UH beat Nevada 13-4 and 8-5 there last year, with a third game being snowed out.
The Wolf Pack lineup is loaded, with seven batters hitting .293 or better, including reigning WAC Hitter of the Week Shaun Kort, who is batting .404 with 42 RBIs in 50 games. He also has 12 doubles, four triples and five homers.
The Rainbows are batting .307 as a team, and have enjoyed a recent power surge of eight homers in their last six games. Two were hit by Kris Sanchez, who leads the team with 10. Six other players hit one each.
Trapasso hopes his team continues to hit as well at Nevada as it did at Hilo, where the Rainbows outscored the Vulcans 25-3.
"We weren't swinging the bats real well (in the home series against Nevada)," Trapasso said. "It could've been the job their pitchers did. (Ryan) Rodriguez and (Rod) Scurry really pitched well against us. When we saw Rodriguez, he was as good as anyone we've seen this year."
Ian Harrington (7-6, 3.80) goes up against Rodriguez (7-5, 3.55) tomorrow, with Matt Daly (5-1, 2.35) facing Scurry (2-5, 5.05) on Sunday and Mark Rodrigues (8-2, 3.44) against Kyle Howe (2-3, 5.23) on Monday.
As a starter, Daly has allowed just one earned run in 25 innings for a 0.36 ERA. He was named national and WAC pitcher of the week after one-hitting Hilo.
With one win in their remaining six games, the Rainbows clinch a spot in the May 24-28 WAC tournament.