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StarBulletin.com

Trapasso's guys show a lot of promise


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POSTED: Monday, March 09, 2009

A college baseball game broke out yesterday at Les Murakami Stadium.

You know, one of those with a slowpitch softball score. The kind that messes up your scorebook and your dinner plans. Prior to this weekend, Hawaii had spoiled us a little bit, with lots of tidy, crisply played games, some of them pitchers' duels.

But in the domain of aluminum bats, sloppy 11-5 outcomes are to be expected—especially on Sunday, after both teams' quality pitching is exhausted.

This was different, though. Hawaii jumped out on top and never let up. Mississippi State made a run at the Rainbows, but you never got the feeling that UH was on the verge of really letting the Bulldogs back into it.

Although the scores were a little on the high side this week, I never got the feeling Hawaii was even close to running out of good, solid pitching. A big part of it is Jayson Kramer pitching deep into the first game of the week, like he did Thursday and in Minnesota, and in the season opener against UC Irvine. That means coach Mike Trapasso doesn't need to deplete his bullpen with three games left to go.

Here's something that made this series special: In three days, the Rainbows, now 6-6, won three different ways.

On Friday, they did it with a walk-off homer by their most consistent hitter, Vinnie Catricala.

Saturday, nearly the entire lineup contributed to a 10-run inning, after MSU went ahead in the top of the frame with a grand slam.

Then the finale, a sloppy Sunday for the Bulldogs against the still-energetic Rainbows.

The UH pitching was overshadowed by the hitting this weekend, but it was generally more than effective, and against a traditional SEC power. The Rainbows appear to be well stocked with capable arms; that makes it OK to be extremely careful with ace Jared Alexander's comeback from elbow woes.

Closer is a question mark right now, but there's plenty of time to figure that one out. One of the candidates, Josh Slaats, did a fine job in four-plus innings of relief yesterday.

I scratched my head a little bit at UH's opening-night lineup that featured freshman Kolten Wong in the leadoff spot. Although he's got some of the natural attributes for it, it just seemed he'd be better off in the two hole, at least to start off. When I voiced this opinion, the question became, “;Then who do you bat first?”; Well, it looks like Trapasso found his man in shortstop Greg Garcia, formerly the No. 2 batter.

The Rainbows are 3-0 since flip-flopping Garcia and Wong.

Batting averages as Wong-Garcia: .194-.222.

Batting averages as Garcia-Wong: .500-.333.

We've still got a way to go before the numbers mean a whole lot, but so far it's a very good move. Garcia's on-base percentage leading off in the last three games is .600. He was aboard when Wong jacked a homer yesterday, and Wong leads the team with four doubles.

Wong lobbied for the switch, and Trapasso agreed to try it.

“;It gave me the option to watch the pitchers, see what he's got,”; Wong told our UH baseball beat writer, Billy Hull. “;Greg's a better first batter than I am. He can run counts and do all that kind of stuff. I like to get my first pitch and go with it.”;

Bottom line is the Rainbows head into their next series, starting Thursday against Loyola Marymount, at 6-6. But it's a very promising 6-6.