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StarBulletin.com

Hawaii-New Mexico State baseball series should be a 'hit'


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POSTED: Friday, April 24, 2009

For now, Kris Sanchez is the only Hawaii player to hit at least 10 home runs in a season under Mike Trapasso.

That might not be the case after this weekend, as the Rainbows bring their suddenly power-hitting lineup to Presley Askew Field for a four-game series against New Mexico State beginning today.

Hawaii (24-14, 7-4 Western Athletic Conference) has already hit 36 homers this season, the fourth-most in school history. The Rainbows' 3-6 hitters hit seven long balls last weekend at home, and now get to take their cracks at the most hitter-friendly park in the league, according to Trapasso.

“;This is an even better hitter's park than Nevada and Louisiana Tech,”; the eighth-year head coach said. “;Balls will leave the yard. The key is to eliminate the walks and errors so a solo home run doesn't turn into a three-run home run.”;

First baseman Kevin Macdonald, who only hit two home runs in his first two years at UH, had four last weekend and now has eight this season, tying him with Kolten Wong for the team lead. Vinnie Catricala and Landon Hernandez, who sandwich the two in the lineup, have six homers each, giving Hawaii potentially four guys to eclipse double digits in homers this season.

“;We're still only hitting about .260 as a team and yet we're 24-14 against a great schedule because those guys have carried us,”; Trapasso said. “;Kolten we knew had that kind of power coming in, and the other guys have been in our program for (at least) three years and they've continued to work hard, gotten stronger and have figured out their swings.”;

As good as those power numbers are, the Aggies, by contrast, have hit 84 homers this year and are batting .354 as a team. Bryan Marquez leads the league with 18 homers and 60 RBIs and eight of the nine regulars in NMSU's lineup are batting at least .348.

Junior staff ace Tyler Sturdevant (4-3, 5.43 ERA) hasn't had the year he hoped for, but has been picked up by right-hander Daniel Simon (8-0, 2.77), who will start the first game of tomorrow's doubleheader against UH freshman Matt Sisto.

“;Now that I've checked with other people and gone over the scouting reports, they're definitely a top-25 caliber team,”; Trapasso said.

Sturdevant will oppose senior Jayson Kramer in today's opener beginning at 2:05 p.m. Hawaii time.

All four games in this weekend's series will be broadcast on KKEA 1420-AM.