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These Rainbows love playing on the razor's edge


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POSTED: Monday, April 06, 2009

The game was nearly over, and Hawaii had a slight problem.

No hits yet for the Rainbows.

So Kevin Macdonald did the only thing he could facing this hairy situation. He found the time to delete his mustache before his final at-bat. Then, with two outs in the ninth, Macdonald blasted a shot seemingly destined to dent the right-center wall. But it landed in Coastal Carolina center fielder Rico Noel's glove, Cody Wheeler got his no-hitter, and UH lost the first game of the series.

That's just the beginning of the story. Sometimes magic is like arsenic; it needs a little time to take effect.

After that downer on March 26, the Rainbows have won six of their seven games in the PME (Post Mustache Era). They're 3-1 in the WAC after a 7-4 win against San Jose State yesterday. They're 19-10 overall.

UH isn't exactly killing the baseball — except when it must. Macdonald is the epitome of this. He's got just six hits in 24 at-bats after getting his clean start. But the junior first baseman has driven in eight runs, including five in the Rainbows' last two wins with a double and a homer.

The clean-up hitter's biggest RBI was actually a run bruised in — the day after the no-hitter, Macdonald was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded and the score tied in the ninth. It capped a gritty win for Hawaii that exemplified what many say: This squad is loaded with heart and character.

It was the front end of a doubleheader sweep against a very good team. Don't forget, this was right after the no-hitter. As hitting can be contagious, so can non-hitting and it's impossible to measure how much this quick rebound meant to UH.

So, it's pretty obvious Macdonald will keep the space between his nose and upper lip clean-shaven (he now rocks the more current goatee look).

What inspired the 'stache in the first place, considering it's about as stylish as a bow tie?

Yesterday, Macdonald told Billy Hull, the Star-Bulletin's UH baseball beat writer, that it goes back to that place of weird happenings called the road.

“;We were in Portland and at a Red Robin or something and all the waiters had mustaches,”; Macdonald said. “;So we were like 'What the hell, what are all these mustaches?' and they said, 'It's Mustache March.'

“;So we came back and I was like, 'I'll give it a shot,' and then we get no-hit, so I was like 'I'm over it.' “;

Promotions department, paying attention? Here's a can't miss, in the tradition of Buhner Buzz Cut Night in Seattle in the 1990s. Anyone willing to have their mustache shaved off gets into Les Murakami Stadium free.

Never mind that I just wrote mustaches are out of style ... they're coming back — who wants to waste money on shaving cream in these tough economic times?

And folks will grow them just for a chance to get into the park; UH baseball's becoming a hot ticket again. The Rainbows actually sold out their doubleheader on Saturday, and with every win the empty seats are fewer.

They don't play at home again until April 17, so even you slow-growers have time. I know this is unfair to the ladies and the Little Leaguers. So any of you willing to wear a fake mustache through the turnstile, all right, you're in. Sorry Jim Donovan, you'll have to find a different way to balance the athletic department budget than increased baseball gate receipts.

I'll concede there might be a bit more to this team's success than its clean-up hitter's relationship with a razor.

We covered clutch hitting. Don't worry about that .248 team average; that'll fatten up when the 'Bows play at altitude and rake against some of the WAC's shallower staffs.

Gotta love the control of these young pitchers: 163 strikeouts to 69 walks in 258 innings is great at any level.

You like defense? Count 'em, four DPs yesterday.

A few WAC wins on the road (combined with hanging tough through that arduous nonconference schedule) and yes, feel free to discuss regionals — and even beyond.

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Reach Star-Bulletin sports columnist Dave Reardon at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)