‘Bows wary of LaTech letdown
Trapasso, ‘Bows not taking last place LaTech lightly
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The Rainbows baseball team enters this weekend's series against WAC bottom-feeder Louisiana Tech unable to take the Bulldogs lightly.
Hawaii has had to claw its way back to a respectable 11-9 conference record after losing six of its first eight league games.
The 'Bows have worked too hard to put themselves in a position to contend for the WAC title to let it slip away at the hands of a Bulldogs team that has lost 11 in a row.
The four-game series begins tomorrow in Ruston, La., which has been kind to the Rainbows. Hawaii has won its last eight games there and is 8-1 in its last nine overall games against Louisiana Tech.
A fourth straight series win would put the 'Bows in good position heading into next week's WAC home finale against second place Sacramento State.
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What could possibly be scary about a team that has lost 11 games in a row and is 2-16 in the Western Athletic Conference?
Hawaii (19-22, 11-9 WAC) at Louisiana Tech (15-22, 2-16), tomorrow, 1 p.m., Saturday (DH) and Sunday, 8 a.m. Radio: KKEA 1420-AM
"They have enough talent to win the league," Hawaii coach Mike Trapasso said of last place Louisiana Tech. "At home, where they usually play well and with their backs against the wall, it is dangerous."
The Rainbows arrived in Ruston, La., yesterday to prepare for a four-game set against the free-falling Bulldogs beginning tomorrow at 1 p.m. Hawaii time.
Louisiana Tech was picked to finish second in the WAC, but is winless in April and has allowed 104 runs over its last 11 games.
Sixth-year coach Wade Simoneaux guided the Bulldogs to back-to-back winning seasons the past two years for the first time in over a decade, but has seen his team crumble in recent weeks.
Yet as bad as they've played, the individual talent the Bulldogs possess can't be ignored.
"The thing that worries you is they have as much talent as anybody in our league," Trapasso said.
Louisiana Tech's pitching has completely fallen apart in league play, which doesn't bode well against a Rainbows team that crushed the ball last weekend against the Wolf Pack.
Hawaii scored 30 runs in four games against Nevada, including UH's first win of the season by the 10-run mercy rule.
Senior shortstop Jon Hee hit .533 in the series and is tied for second with teammate Brandon Haislet in hits in WAC play.
The Rainbows also got a much-needed boost from catcher Landon Hernandez, who nearly doubled his season total in RBIs with eight against the Wolf Pack, and second baseman Greg Garcia, who had seven hits in 13 at-bats.
Garcia has hit .391 since returning from a 10-game absence after spraining his ankle and has provided punch at the bottom of the order that has really helped the 'Bows.
"He's kept the ball out of the air for the most part and hit a lot of hard line drives and ground balls," Trapasso said.
Garcia was struggling mightily with the bat before his injury, and the time off has helped him physically and mentally. He's still slightly hampered by the injury, but has put it behind him enough to see his season batting average rise to .291.
"I think rolling his ankle may have actually helped him," Trapasso said. "It was good for him after a tough start to catch his breath."
Junior Matt Daly put forth one of the best starting outings by a Rainbow pitcher all season on Sunday, taking a no-hitter into the seventh inning and allowing two hits over 7 2/3 innings.
Daly was named WAC pitcher of the week, but his role is still the same as it has been. If the Rainbows need him early in the series in late-inning situations, he will be there. If he's not used and is available Sunday, he could once again be the fourth starter.
"For now, it's TBA on Sunday," Trapasso said. "We'll see how things go."
The other three starters seem pretty firm at their spots the rest of the season. Jared Alexander will start the opener and senior Nick Rhodes and junior Alex Bates will take the mound in Saturday's doubleheader.