No rest for beleaguered ’Bows
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Hawaii is in the middle of a stretch of nine baseball games in 12 days before it opens WAC play next week.
Alabama-Birmingham at Hawaii, tonight and tomorrow, 6:30 p.m., Les Murakami Stadium; live KFVE, Ch. 5; KKEA 1420-AM
As challenging as that may sound, it's exactly how coach Mike Trapasso wants it.
"It's always a good thing to play. That's what we need to do anyway," Trapasso said. "You hate sitting around."
The Rainbows try to snap a six-game losing streak tonight when they host Alabama-Birmingham.
Hawaii has shown the ability to play tough against the best teams in the country, but it hasn't translated to wins. The Rainbows are 5-9 with the future not looking any easier. After two games against UAB, Hawaii will play three at No. 13 UC Irvine and have a home game against No. 21 San Diego.
"It doesn't give us time to mope around," junior pitcher Harrison Kuroda said. "I think we just need to keep playing and then things will start clicking."
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The situation couldn't have been any tougher when Alex Myers made his Hawaii debut.
Just days after the JC transfer was declared eligible by the NCAA, the junior from Santa Cruz, Calif., stepped to the plate in the bottom of the 12th inning against No. 9 Long Beach State on Friday with two outs and the tying run on first.
"It was awesome. My first (Division I) college at-bat is in the bottom of the (12th) against a closer throwing 96 (mph)," Myers said. "It's like getting thrown in the fire, but it's only going to get easier from there."
Myers grounded out on the play and then found himself in a similar situation the next night. With UH trailing 4-2 in the bottom of the ninth, Myers represented the tying run with two outs in his second career at-bat. This time, he grounded out to the pitcher.
Despite the hard luck, Myers got the start at first base to finish the series and went 2-for-4 with two RBIs. He replaced sophomore Kevin Macdonald, who aggravated a heel injury late in Saturday night's game while running to first. The injury is only a bruise, and Macdonald, who is in a 6-for-41 slump this season, is expected to start tonight.
"He's had the injury before," Hawaii coach Mike Trapasso said. "When it flares up, we know how long it takes. He could have gone (Sunday). He's been struggling so he needed a break from swinging anyway."
Hee searching for wins
While the Rainbows are in the midst of a six-game losing streak, Trapasso has been fairly pleased with the team's ability to compete.
Still, the team needs to turn these hard-fought battles into wins, according to senior Jon Hee.
"We definitely got better this weekend, but you don't get points for playing well and losing," the starting second baseman said. "The most important thing should be winning games regardless of how you win."
Hee has been one of Hawaii's most consistent weapons on offense. The senior is hitting .358 and either leads or is tied for the team lead in hits (19), runs (12) and walks (9).
Kuroda enjoys first start
It was four years since junior pitcher Harrison Kuroda
last started a game. He was a senior at Mid-Pacific Institute.
That all changed just after the team stretched prior to Sunday's game when Trapasso told Kuroda he'd get the start.
"I think whenever you get the call, you're excited and nervous at the same time," Kuroda said. "It's kind of more how you respond to that."
Kuroda was unscored upon for four innings. He lasted 4 2/3 and allowed two runs on three hits while striking out four and walking four. All of his other appearances had been out of the bullpen.
"I thought it was definitely different. Your preparation changes," Kuroda said. "All in all I liked it. A lot of things are in the air right now. We still have a lot of stuff to figure out."
No time to rest
Hawaii is back in action tonight for the first of two games against Alabama-Birmingham. Freshman Josh Slaats
(0-1, 6.43 ERA) will oppose Johnny Volk
(0-0, 9.00 ERA) tonight while Trapasso says he'll go with a staff by committee for tomorrow.
Hawaii will then quickly hop on a plane for Irvine, Calif., for a weekend series against UC Irvine. The Anteaters jumped six spots to No. 13 in this week's Baseball America poll. Long Beach State is ranked ninth.