Rainbows look to avenge 2 losses to Fresno State
Hawaii is guaranteed a winning baseball season. But the Rainbows might not consider it a good one if they don't finish it strongly with a series victory over Fresno State this week at Les Murakami Stadium and a strong showing in next week's Western Athletic Conference tournament.
Fresno State at Hawaii
When: Tomorrow, 6:35 p.m.; Sunday, 1:05 p.m.; Monday, 6:35 p.m.
Where: Les Murakami Stadium
TV: KFVE (Ch. 5)
Radio: KKEA, 1420-AM
Probable starting pitchers -- Hawaii: Ian Harrington (7-7, 4.18 ERA); Matt Daly (5-2, 2.67); Mark Rodrigues (8-3, 3.60). Fresno State: Clayton Allison (9-4, 4.40), left-hander Justin Wilson (7-5, 3.31) and Tanner Scheppers (5-4, 5.21).
The Rainbows are 31-22 overall and 9-12 in the WAC headed into tomorrow's series opener against the Bulldogs, who are 31-25 and 16-5. UH would love to finish the home schedule by avenging a pair of two-out, ninth-inning losses at Fresno on April 15. Including that double dip, Hawaii -- which was a preseason co-favorite to win the league -- has lost eight of its last 11 WAC games and is fourth in the seven-team league.
Fresno State has won five of its last six, and clinches the WAC regular-season championship with two wins against UH.
"Fresno's a good team. They're in first place," said UH pitcher Tyler Davis, who earned a save in the Rainbows' 9-8 win against the Bulldogs on April 14.
"But we know we can play with them and we can beat them. Losing those two games in the bottom of the ninth kind of left a sour taste in our mouths. We know we can beat them and we want to win the series and take some momentum into the WAC tournament."
Coach Mike Trapasso knows his Rainbows can play with anyone in the WAC when they're going right; they took two out of three against powerful Louisiana Tech the last time they played at home.
But lately, UH has had trouble sustaining its offense throughout the course of a game, and defense and baserunning mistakes have been costly.
"We're playing a very good club in Fresno," Trapasso said.
"Yet our main focus is on ourselves and trying to do the things that will allow us to carry some momentum into the tournament.
"That's really what our focus is, getting ready for the tournament, finding that combination of pitching, defense and hitting that allows us to play well like we did a few weeks ago."
Tomorrow night's starter, left-hander Ian Harrington, is also looking at this series as an opportunity to get something going headed into the tournament.
"The mentality we have is it's been unfortunate we haven't played better in the WAC. Our goal now is to get hot going into that tournament," Harrington said. "It really is a beautiful thing for somebody that's in the middle of the pack. You can go to that tournament, win it, and be conference champions. It's definitely to our advantage now, and we're just hoping to get hot, go in there and win the whole thing."
After Harrington (7-7, 4.18) tomorrow, Trapasso said he will start right-hander Matt Daly (5-2, 2.67) on Sunday and left-hander Mark Rodrigues (8-3, 3.60) on Monday.
Fresno State is expected to counter with Clayton Allison (9-4, 4.40), left-hander Justin Wilson (7-5, 3.31) and Tanner Scheppers (5-4, 5.21).
Hit and run: The first 200 fans to enter the stadium tomorrow receive backpacks, compliments of Bank of Hawaii. California Hotel & Casino and Vacations Hawaii are sponsoring Sunday's game and the University of Hawaii Federal Credit Union is sponsoring Monday's "Senior Night" game. The first 1,500 fans will receive a baseball team photo. Also, fans can register for the chance to win an inter-island trip for two, compliments of Hawaiian Airlines and UHFCU. ... This is the last home series for seniors Davis, Harrington, Rodrigues, Eli Christensen, Jorge Franco, Justin Frash, Kris Sanchez and Jeff Soskin. ... Former UH great Derek Tatsuno will throw out the first pitch Sunday. Tatsuno will be enshrined in the National College Baseball Hall of Fame in July.