Rainbows are ready


POSTED: Friday, February 20, 2009

Jayson Kramer walked to the mound as a freshman wearing the jersey he coveted ever since he was a kid.

He toed the rubber, looked in at catcher Landon Hernandez, and let loose with his first warm-up pitch.




        Hawaii vs. UC Irvine; 6:35 p.m. today, 1:05 p.m. tomorrow (2) and Sunday; Les Murakami Stadium; TV: KFVE; Radio: KKEA, 1420-AM



Hernandez didn't even bother to try to glove it, only turning his head as it sailed over his head to the backstop.

“;I was so nervous,”; Kramer recalled.

The senior right-hander will call upon his 53 appearances since then to keep the nerves down as he makes the first start of his career on opening day tonight against No. 9 UC Irvine at Les Murakami Stadium.

“;I'm not planning on throwing my first pitch to the backstop,”; Kramer said. “;I'm going into this well prepared. I'm mentally and physically as ready as I'll ever be.”;

The Mid-Pacific graduate started his transition to the starting role early in the offseason, developing a new pitch and modifying his existing changeup in order to be able to go through opposing lineups multiple times.

Now confident in his ability to throw four different pitches effectively, it's only doing that that'll be on his mind as he steps on the mound tonight to open the season.

“;I'm more concerned of all my stuff showing up than facing any hitters or any of the other stuff,”; Kramer said. “;I know that if I can put my fastball where I want it and get my curve and changeup over for strikes, I'll be effective.”;

The all-green seats and Domo turf field are much different from Kramer's first memories of UH's home ballpark. Since as long as he can remember, Kramer would come to most UH home games with his parents and grandparents, watching such UH greats as Levon Largusa, Scott Karl and Billy Blanchette.

“;My favorite was Todd Takayoshi though,”; Kramer said. “;I caught a foul ball he hit and then after the game got him to sign it.”;

From then on his dream was to play ball for the 'Bows, and he didn't hesitate at the opportunity to sign when he got the chance.

“;The second they talked to me, I said 'Show me where to sign.'”;

After that warm-up pitch that sailed to the backstop, Kramer went to work against Hawaii Pacific, which was beating UH at the time. He lasted 1 1/3 innings and didn't give up an earned run as the Rainbows came back to beat the Sea Warriors 11-10 in 10 innings.

“;We almost lost that game,”; Kramer said. “;Winning made it much better.”;

Kramer developed into Hawaii's closer last season, earning five saves in a team-high 27 appearances. With the loss of starters Nick Rhodes and Matt Daly and the status of Jared Alexander in question for the early part of this year, it opened the door for Kramer to come in and take hold of the rotation to start the season.

“;With Jared being out of the rotation, that gives a couple other pitchers an opportunity to show Coach what they got,”; Kramer said.


Klein sees familiar face

When junior college transfer Nathaniel Klein starts the first game of tomorrow's doubleheader, it'll be the first chance for most people to see him pitch.

UC Irvine coach Mike Gillespie isn't among those.

Gillespie was the head coach at USC when Klein signed with the Trojans out of Dos Pueblos High School in California.

Klein had surgery on his throwing elbow in the fall of his freshman season, and things never worked out at USC, with Klein eventually transferring to Santa Barbara City College before making his way to Hawaii.


No time table for Alexander

It's up in the air how long senior Jared Alexander will be out, but UH coach Mike Trapasso said Wednesday that he could be available to pitch an inning next week on Hawaii's trip to Minnesota.

Whether that's the case remains to be seen. First and foremost for Trapasso is that Alexander is healthy and ready to go by the time WAC play begins April 3 against San Jose State.