C O L L E G E _ B A S E B A L L

Cossacks ruin Sea Warriors' season opener

By By Dennis Oda, Star-Bulletin, Star-Bulletin
Sonoma State’s Shane Sutcliffe dives back into second base while Hawaii Pacific’s Bryce Uegawachi lunges to make the tag.

By Al Chase

Hawaii Pacific University's baseball season opener was not what head coach Allan Sato expected.

After arriving at Hans L'Orange Park just a half hour before game time, Sonoma State coach John Goelz was not sure what to expect, but his Cossacks showed they did not need batting practice.

The Cossacks fell behind 2-0 in the first inning, then methodically pecked away at the first two Sea Warriors' pitchers. Scoring in every inning but one from the third through the eighth, Sonoma State won the first of a four-game series, 9-3, yesterday.

Third baseman Derek Bell had four hits and second baseman Jose Sandoval three to lead the 14-hit Sonoma State attack. The Cossacks were retired in order just once, in the second inning.

David Avila, a 6-foot-5 senior right-hander, struggled with his control in the first inning and the Sea Warriors made him pay when Kaina McCallum's single to center scored two runs. However, Hawaii Pacific managed just three harmless singles over the next five innings.

"There were some first-game jitters and we just got off the plane," said Avila, who went six innings said. "From the second inning on, I just went right after their guys. My fastball was running in on the right-hander hitters and my slider was working."

"We were fired up to play and just needed to relax," Sonoma State catcher Shane Sutcliffe said. "David settled down and was hitting his spots pretty darn well."

The Cossacks scored a run in the third on Ryan Bedrosian's double to left-center field, then took the lead for good in the fourth on Sutcliffe's two-out single to left.

HPU starter Shawn Nakamura got into more trouble in the fifth by falling behind on the count. Sonoma State scored two more runs although the second came home when third baseman Lee Anzai roamed almost to second base, then dropped a pop fly that should have been shortstop Travis Clutter's play.

Anzai also turned the defensive gem of the game when he back-handed a wicked liner off Eric Kowes' bat and dove to beat Fay Lentini to the bag for an unassisted double play.

"This game is an example of what can happen when we play outside of ourselves," Sato said. "We were chasing bad pitches, had poor execution and out pitchers couldn't keep the ball down. Some of the pitches we were making Stevie Wonder could hit."

With limited power in his lineup, Sato has been telling his players to stay out of the air, that there are no bad hops in the air and they need to put the ball in play to have a chance. He also told them to stay away from the strikeout.

Nine of the last 12 Sea Warriors to go down did so by striking out or hitting balls in the air that were caught. A bases-loaded, one-out situation in the seventh ended on a strikeout and long fly to right.

"There were plenty of good examples of what I was trying to tell them not to do," Sato said.

The weather at Rohnert Park, north of San Francisco, had kept the Cossacks indoors the past week. Goelz, who has brought a team here each year since 1991, said, "There's no better place to start because of the good weather, hospitality and the competition.

"I think we are going to have a very good team. Pitching depth is our concern. I'm not surprised at our hitting. We have six or seven tough outs, but we'll probably get no-hit tomorrow."

The teams play a doubleheader at 4 today and a 7 p.m. game tomorrow at Hans L'Orange Park.

Sonoma State   001  220  130-9  14  1

Hawaii Pacific 100 000 100-3 8 1

David Avila, Tom Bryne (7), John Martine (9) and Shane Sutcliffe; Shawn Nakamura, Cory Hokama (6), Kelton Otsuka (9) and Mark Sylvester. W-Avila (0-1). L-Nakamura (0-1).

Leading hitters-SS: Ryan Bedrosian, 2b; Dan Prentice, 3b, 2 RBIs; Derek Bell, 4-5; Jose Sabdoval, 3-5, 2 2bs; Sutcliffe, 2-4, 2 RBIs. HPU: Travis Clutter, 2-4; Kaina McCallum, 2 RBIs.

UH-Hilo needs a fast start

By Al Chase

When the University of Hawaii at Hilo Vulcans open their 1998 baseball season today with a doubleheader against the University of San Francisco, they will already be in a playoff atmosphere.

"I tell the guys we are in the playoffs right now. Every game is like our conference or league. We have to find ourselves at the beginning," UHH head coach Joey Estrella said.

Operating as an NCAA Division I independent creates unique circumstances for Estrella.

His team can't start slow, get better and bank on finishing strong in league play to earn a postseason berth. There isn't the financial backing or the fans base the UH Rainbows enjoy. Putting a schedule together means contacting schools that can afford the trip to the Big Island.

A five-game series with Arizona State (No. 5, Collegiate Baseball Poll; No. 6, Baseball America Poll) at the end of this month will be a good indication of how fast the Vulcans start.

There is a three-game set with San Diego State in March, then the Rainbow Easter Tournament and road games at No. 6 Southern Cal, No. 27 Pepperdine, Cal State Northridge, No. 21 UCLA and UC Santa Barbara.

"We'd like to play some teams that aren't as good, but we just don't have that luxury," Estrella said.

Pitching will be the Vulcans' strength. Starters include left-hander Thomas Ford (2-5, 2.39 ERA in 1997), right-hander Tyler Yates (1-3, 4.49), right-hander Kaholo Rickard (1-0, 5.44) and left-hander Russell Ricafort.

Left-hander Chris Saringan will be middle relief, with Mike Komorous and junior college transfer Jason Lippert used as closers.

Top returning hitters are center fielder Adam Cancellieri (.293, 20 RBIs) and third baseman Tony Jackson (.299, 24 RBIs).

Shaye Miura will be in left and Layne Takahashi in right.

Ford and Yates also play first base. Davey Meguro will be at second and Scott Wallis, coming off a medical redshirt year, will start at shortstop.

"We'll have to rely on a our pitching," said Estrella, in his 22nd season. "Overall, we are relatively inexperienced."

UH-Hilo schedule

Today: San Francisco (2), 4:30 p.m., Francis Wong Stadium.

Tomorrow: San Francisco (2), 4:30 p.m.

Friday: Sonoma State (2), 4:30 p.m. Saturday: Sonoma State (2), 1 p.m.

Jan. 29: Arizona State, 6 p.m., Francis Wong Stadium. 30: Arizona State, 6 p.m., Francis Wong Stadium. 31: Arizona State (2), 1 p.m. Feb. 1: Arizona State, 1 p.m., Old Kona Airport Ball Park.

Feb. 6: at Hawaii, 6:05 p.m. 7: vs. Hawaii, 11 a.m., Hanapepe Ball Park. 8: Hawaii, 1 p.m., Old Kona Airport Ball Park.

Feb. 13: U. of San Diego, 6 p.m. 14: U. of San Diego (2), 1 p.m. 15: U. of San Diego, 1 p.m., Old Kona Airport Ball Park.

March 3: San Diego State, 6 p.m., Francis Wong Stadium. 4: San Diego State, 6 p.m. 5: San Diego State, 2 p.m.

March 7: Southern Colorado (2), noon. 8: Southern Colorado (2), noon.

March 19: Lewis-Clark State, 6 p.m. 20: Lewis-Clark State, 6 p.m., Francis Wong Stadium.

March 23-29: Rainbow Easter Tournament.

April 3: at Hawaii Pacific, 7 p.m., Hans L'Orange Park. 4: at Hawaii Pacific (2), noon, Hans L'Orange Park.

April 6: at Southern Cal. 7: at Pepperdine. 8: at Cal State Northridge. 9: at Cal State Northridge. 10: at Cal State Northridge. 11: at Cal State Northridge. 13: at UCLA. 14: at UC Santa Barbara.

April 18: Hawaii Pacific (2), noon. 19: Hawaii Pacific (2), noon, Old Kona Airport Ball Park.

Home games at UHH Stadium, unless noted.

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