’Bows back to WAC play with 4 games in San Jose
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The Hawaii baseball team concludes a nine-game road trip with a WAC series against San Jose State beginning tomorrow at 3 p.m.
Hawaii (10-19, 2-6 WAC) at San Jose State (3-14, 5-6) 3 p.m. tomorrow; Radio: KKEA, 1420-AM
As bad as the Rainbows' recent stretch of conference games has been, they only find themselves three games out of a four-way tie for first.
Jared Alexander will take the mound for tomorrow's opener, but after that, it's up in the air, according to coach Mike Trapasso, who said he would sleep on it last night.
One thing he does know is that his squad won't be given any freebies against a well-coached Spartans team.
"I've gone on record as saying (San Jose State coach) Sam (Piraro) is the best coach in our league and as good as a fundamental instructor you will find in college baseball," Trapasso said. "They're a team that's not going to beat themselves. You have to go out and beat them."
Hawaii will try to accomplish that with the help of reliever Jayson Kramer. His clutch performance on Tuesday established him as the team's go-to guy at the back end of the bullpen.
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It seemed destined to end in the same heartbreaking fashion most games have this season.
The Rainbow baseball team had given another ranked team all it could handle on Tuesday, fighting tooth and nail with No. 13 Stanford.
The score was tied heading into the bottom of the eighth inning when Cardinal center fielder Sean Ratliff led off with a triple to put the go-ahead run 90 feet from home plate.
Any number of plays would have given the Cardinal the lead. A hit, a wild pitch, a deep flyball to the outfield, or even a weak ground ball could have gotten the job done.
"It's pretty much the worst situation to be put in," said reliever Jayson Kramer, who entered the game at that point.
The Rainbows were desperate for a victory, having lost six in a row and coming off a four-game sweep at the hands of Sacramento State.
The junior from Mid-Pacific Institute beared down and threw the pitch catcher Landon Hernandez signaled for.
A lineout, a groundout and a strikeout later, Ratliff found himself still standing on third, the inning over.
"He became that guy at the end of games to be that stopper for us," Hawaii coach Mike Trapasso said of Kramer. "I think that put the momentum back on our side to go out and score in the very next half."
The Rainbows did exactly that and notched their first win of the season over a ranked foe.
They hope to carry that good fortune into this weekend's four-game series at San Jose State that begins tomorrow.
Hawaii (10-19, 2-6 Western Athletic Conference) will try to move out of last place when it takes on the Spartans (14-10, 5-6) at 3 p.m. Hawaii time. Jared Alexander (3-3, 2.01 ERA) will get the start.
The Rainbows have been hurting for wins this season, but some of the problems have come from self-induced mistakes.
Tuesday's game was more than just a victory. It was a nine-inning showcase that when the Rainbows play the right way, they can compete with and beat anybody.
"The win was nice, but it was almost one of those deals where it was good to just go out there and play well," Trapasso said. "I was really proud of the kids because, frankly, we out-competed them."
A revamped lineup helped the Rainbows offense produce at least 10 hits for the fourth straight game. Derek DuPree and Sean Montplaisir have brought speed and contact hitting to the top of the order and will continue to bat in those spots as long as they keep producing.
Trapasso has fiddled with his lineup to find the right combinations and done everything except panic during Hawaii's recent rough stretch.
As Kramer put it, the Rainbows put too much time and energy into what they do to be discouraged by a poor first half of the season.
"We work so hard during the year that we deserve the right to be confident all year no matter how we play," Kramer said. "We go through so much pain and stress with, like, morning weights and practice that we deserve the right to be confident no matter how we do during this season."
With that said, the importance of Tuesday's win wasn't lost on the right-hander, especially after Hawaii's recent stretch of games.
"It was still a great win," Kramer said. "That performance was horrible in Sacramento."