Coasting no option for UH


POSTED: Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Hawaii's final series before opening Western Athletic Conference baseball play next week could be its biggest challenge yet.





        No. 15 Coastal Carolina (18-4) at Hawaii (13-8), 6:35 p.m. tomorrow, KKEA, 1420-AM



Coastal Carolina, ranked 15th in this week's USA TODAY/ESPN Top 25 coaches poll and 18th in Baseball America, comes to town for a four-game series beginning tomorrow at 6:35 p.m. at Les Murakami Stadium.

The Chanticleers (18-4) are predicted to win the Big South conference, and boast preseason conference pitcher of the year Nick McCully, who is 1-0 with a 2.19 ERA in 10 relief appearances.

Starters Anthony Meo (3-0, 2.18) and Cody Wheeler (4-0, 2.70) anchor a staff with an ERA of 2.78. Coastal Carolina's offense isn't bad either, hitting .317 for the season.

Tyler Bortnick (.386, 23 runs) and David Anderson (.373, seven homers, 23 RBIs) lead a lineup that has scored at least 12 runs seven times, and has scored 36 runs in a game.

“;They are an outstanding team, maybe the best we've played all year,”; said Hawaii coach Mike Trapasso, whose team has already faced five teams that have been or are now ranked this season. “;They are outstanding in every phase. Tremendous pitching and tremendous hitting.”;

The Chanticleers, who arrived in Hawaii on Monday, have been here longer than the Rainbows (13-8), who returned home yesterday from Oregon, where they went 3-2.

Hawaii won the Rose City Invitational, making up for a 13-2 loss to Portland last Friday by defeating the Pilots 9-8 in 12 innings on Sunday on a pinch-hit home run by junior Christian Johnson.

The Rainbows have won 10 of their last 12, while Coastal Carolina has lost three of four since starting the season 17-1.

“;We just need to keep playing well and try to be more consistent up and down,”; Trapasso said. “;Every game you play, you just want to see guys be consistent.”;

The Rainbows will be without junior starter Nate Klein for the second week in a row. Klein, who suffered a muscle strain in his arm against Loyola Marymount, is expected to see a doctor tomorrow.

Even if he's given a clean bill of health and can return to the team, it'd still be a couple of weeks before he was back on the mound in a game situation.

“;We'd still have to build him up and get him strong again before we threw him back out there,”; Trapasso said.

Regulars Jayson Kramer, Jared Alexander and Matt Sisto will start the first three games of the series, which includes a 3:30 p.m. start time for the doubleheader on Friday.

Saturday's starter has yet to be determined. Connor Little filled in for Klein last week and allowed six runs in 3 2/3 innings, but got help from freshman relievers Jesse Moore and Lenny Linsky, who combined to allow one earned run in eight innings.

“;(The decision) is less about how Connor threw and more about the fact that we may have to use him coming out of the bullpen to help us win (earlier in the series),”; Trapasso said.

Little is 1-0 with a 2.16 ERA in three appearances out of the bullpen.