FL MORRIS / FMORRIS@STARBULLETIN.COM
Hawaii's Nate Young bunted against Fresno State on Saturday. The 'Bows split a four-game series with the Bulldogs.
Rainbows embark on lengthy road trip
Team is away for 9 games after split with Bulldogs
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Hawaii's second attempt at a four-game series ended the same way the first one did.
The Rainbows won the first two games only to have all the momentum they gained crushed in losing the final two.
How they finish off these series could be the difference down the stretch of the WAC baseball season.
For now, the Rainbows are 2-2 in conference play after splitting a four-game series with Fresno State.
Hawaii put forth one of its best collective pitching efforts in recent memory. Jared Alexander and Nick Rhodes helped the Rainbows hold opponents scoreless for 30 consecutive innings as Hawaii produced back-to-back shutouts for the first time since 1999.
An inability to cash in on scoring chances may have cost them a chance to win the series, but Hawaii coach Mike Trapasso is confident that can be corrected.
The Rainbows are on the road the next two weeks and will return home for a series April 10 after completing more than one-third of the WAC season. By then, they should have a good idea of where they stand in the race for a WAC title.
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The start of the Western Athletic Conference season brought renewed energy to a Rainbows baseball team in need of a second wind.
When the four-game series format was announced for conference play, it became apparent that Hawaii's overall physical and mental toughness would be tested in playing a minimum of 36 innings in three days. The Rainbows let a chance to win a WAC opening series for the second straight year get away, but it didn't have anything to do with a lack of effort.
"I had no problem with our toughness whatsoever," Hawaii coach Mike Trapasso said. "We had great energy, we had toughness, we just didn't hit. It had noting to do with our toughness."
The Rainbows couldn't get the clutch hits they got in winning the first two games of the series. They also left runs on the basepaths as a result of poor running and an inability to move runners over.
"It was really disappointing to drop games like that," senior outfielder Evan Zimny said. "They were heartbreakers."
Splitting a four-game series against the two-time defending conference champions isn't a bad way to kick off league play. The good news is the Rainbows played with a bit more fire and intensity than they had in recent weeks. If it continues, the results could swing in their favor.
"If we play like this and keep this same energy, we're going to have a good couple of weeks on the road," Zimny said.
Hawaii's next nine games are off island, starting Friday with a four-game set at Sacramento State.
Rhodes owns the Bulldogs
Senior Nick Rhodes
has started five games in his Hawaii career and hadn't won any of them until coming within one batter of a complete-game shutout in Friday's 2-0 victory.
Two of those five starts have come against the Bulldogs, with Rhodes not allowing a run in 14 2/3 innings. Rhodes tossed six shutout innings against Fresno State in the final regular-season game last season for a 1-0 win. In those starts, he has allowed a paltry seven hits while striking out 15.
Six is fine with Haislet
has spent most of the season hitting third in the Rainbows batting order, but found himself down in the six-hole for all four games against Fresno State.
Haislet had seen his average dip to a season-low .310 coming into the series, but drove in half of Hawaii's eight runs against the Bulldogs and went 5-for-13. His two-run homer on Friday accounted for the only runs scored by either team.
"Whether you're in the three-spot, four-spot, five-spot, if you're in a certain situation with our team, we're going to rely on that person to do their jobs," Haislet said. "It's just a new place for me to do a job."
10-run rule in effect after all
The word from Trapasso and UH sports information director Pakalani Bello
was that all WAC games would be at least nine innings.
On Friday, Nevada beat Louisiana Tech 14-3 and New Mexico State defeated San Jose State 12-1. Both games only lasted seven innings.
Upon hearing the results, Bello confirmed with another SID in the conference to determine there is indeed a 10-run rule this season. If any team is up 10 runs or more after seven innings, the game will be called.
One SID confirmed he didn't know the rule until the teams left the field at the end of seven innings and never came back out.