Hawaii adds 2 fresh arms for WAC's stretch drive
As Hawaii prepares for the college baseball season's stretch run, two pitchers who recently made their season debuts could become key players.
Junior Alex Bates, sidelined all season with a shoulder injury, made his Rainbows debut when he started the second game of Saturday's doubleheader against New Mexico State.
Hyped as a guy that coach Mike Trapasso said could be the No. 1 starter going into the season, Bates passed his first test by tossing two shutout innings.
"We had to get him out there and we've got to continue to get him out there," Trapasso said. "I didn't want to wait for a situation to put him in, so I said let's just start him and see what happens."
The Rainbows got a glimpse of just how good the right-hander from Consumnes River C.C. can be. He struck out three of the first four batters he faced and gave up one hit.
He needed 35 pitches (17 balls, 18 strikes) to get through two innings and didn't have full command of his pitches, but he didn't give up any runs and came away from his start unscathed.
"I felt good in the first inning and then I came out in the second inning and was a little wild," Bates said. "I maybe could have went three, but that second inning took a few more pitches than expected."
Alex Myers, who has started 11 games at first base or designated hitter this season, also saw his first action on the mound, throwing a perfect ninth inning in the first game of the doubleheader with a strikeout.
Both Myers and Bates could be crucial to the team's WAC title hopes heading into the final five weeks of the season.
"It's like getting two quality arms for your stretch drive," Trapasso said. "They're going to really help us out."
TRAPASSO GETS NO. 200
Saturday's 5-1 victory over the Aggies was the 200th victory for Trapasso, now in his seventh season as the Rainbows head coach.
Trapasso is the second winningest coach in UH history, but is still considered the young pup among coaches in the WAC.
Only Louisiana Tech's Wade Simoneaux and Fresno State's Mike Batesole, both in their sixth seasons as head coach, have won fewer games. Batesole is three wins away from 200.
Three coaches in the WAC have been at their schools for at least 20 years and won at least 650 games. Sacramento State's John Smith is the dean of the conference with 825 wins in his 29-plus seasons at the helm.
NOT ALL BAD FOR DUPREE
Senior Derek DuPree
entered the Aggies series as one of the Rainbows' hottest hitters.
His 10-game hitting streak was snapped in the opener and he finished 0-for-9 in four games.
But if you go beyond the box score, DuPree did all the small things asked of him hitting second in the order. He drove in two runs, scored a run, and executed three sacrifice bunts. In Friday's 8-3 win, DuPree went to the plate five times, walking three times and driving in a run in each of his other two appearances.
His situational batting in the two-spot has been critical to the Rainbows' 7-2 record over their past nine games.
HAVEN'T SEEN THE LAST OF US
The Aggies are one of two teams the Rainbows play two series against this season. Hawaii's final road trip of the season is at New Mexico State on May 8-10.
New Mexico State's high-octane offense was held in check for the most part during the weekend series, but Presley Askew Field, where the Aggies play their home games, is much more of a hitter's ballpark.
New Mexico State's 2-4 hitters batted .356 in the series, with three home runs and nine RBIs and could have had more.
"Our park held a few balls that would have been out in other places," Trapasso said. "We've got to face this lineup again at their place and that's going to be a challenge with the way they play at home."