'Bows look to rebound from rough road trip


POSTED: Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Fifty-six baseball games in three months doesn't leave much time to ponder recent misfortunes.

Hawaii suffered a heart-breaking loss in the final game of the Dairy Queen Classic on Sunday, allowing three runs in the ninth inning against host Minnesota to lose 5-4.

Except for the long plane ride home from Minneapolis the following day, the Rainbows (3-5) don't have time to think about what happened that kept them from a winning road trip.

Not when they have to get right back out on the field.

Hawaii welcomes surging Mississippi State to Les Murakami Stadium for a four-game series that starts tomorrow.

The Bulldogs are off to a 7-1 start, and cracked the top 30 of this week's Collegiate Baseball poll.

“;They are a perennial SEC power and shoot, when we made this up a couple years ago they went to Omaha,”; Hawaii coach Mike Trapasso said. “;Last year they had their first bad year in forever, but they are a good club and very well coached.”;

First-year coach John Cohen has the Bulldogs headed in the right direction after MSU suffered its first losing season since 1975 last year.

The Bulldogs are balanced, entering the series hitting .297 as a team while holding opponents to three earned runs per game.

Junior Connor Powers is hitting .357 with three home runs and 14 RBIs as the Bulldogs feature six regulars hitting at least .300.

The Rainbows look to get their bats going as they enter the series hitting .231. Other than Vinnie Catricala, who leads all starters with a .357 average, almost every Rainbow comes into this series batting below .245.

The only other regulars hitting above that mark are seniors Shane Hoey and Ryan Morford, who rotate starts at second base and are hitting .333 and .273.

“;The fact that they are seniors, regardless of which one is on the field I think, has really helped them play well,”; Trapasso said. “;They're swinging the bats well, but they're also playing really good defense as well, which is the most important thing.”;

Four Rainbows who have started all eight games are hitting below .220, including highly-touted freshman Kolten Wong.

Wong hasn't wasted any time making his presence felt in center field, already putting together an impressive highlight reel of catches.

He came through with a couple of two-out RBI hits last week, which could be a sign UH's leadoff hitter is ready to turn things up a notch.

“;He is a great player, and he's going to finish the year with great numbers,”; Trapasso said. “;He's going through the normal struggles that all freshmen go through. Nobody's immune to it no matter how high you get drafted.”;

Jared Alexander hasn't felt any discomfort in his throwing arm since making his season debut Sunday, allowing one hit over four innings on just 39 pitches.

He's expected to start one of the weekend games with freshman Matt Sisto throwing the other. Jayson Kramer will start the opener tomorrow and Nate Klein follows on Friday.

“;We'll just extend (Alexander's) pitch count a little higher next time out and do that every time he goes out,”; Trapasso said. “;Hopefully he continues to throw like he did.”;

Trapasso wasn't sure yet on the status of outfielder Matt Roquemore, who suffered a hamstring injury running to first in Hawaii's season opener Feb. 20. He hasn't played since.