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When it really mattered, Rainbows struck out


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POSTED: Monday, May 04, 2009

One word sums it up for the University of Hawaii baseball team and its fans after a lost weekend of epic proportion.

Demoralizing.

What a buzz kill. What a downer at a crucial part of the season. They lost all four to Louisiana Tech. And at home.

The fans were in quiet shock. Jaws gaping at what had transpired before them. A brutal one-run loss, the eventual winner crossing the plate in the ninth on an infield single. The Rainbows then leaving the tying and winning markers in scoring position, the last two batters striking out.

It doesn't get worse, so tantalizingly close to pulling one out. Oh, yes it does — when it's the fifth defeat in a row as the team should be sprinting to the tape, not gasping for breath.

The players and coaches scattered quicker than elementary school kids on the last day of school after yesterday's 8-7 series finale. But the mood was completely opposite, a joyless exodus.

Really, what positives could be derived? That the team fought to the end? An empty cliche for a club that was so recently riding high, with a national ranking and apparently the makings to go deep into the postseason.

With all that talented young pitching, veteran clutch hitting and solid defense there seemed no limit to what the Rainbows could achieve.

Now, if Mike Trapasso doesn't find a way to get this turned around — and quickly — UH could find itself in that terrible spot LaTech was in last year. The host Rainbows could be on the outside looking in at the WAC tournament in three weeks. Who thought that even possible until this slump?

Yes, the Rainbows travel more than other teams. But apologists, please spare me the tired excuse of being tired — especially after dropping four in a row to LaTech, which has been on the road long enough to know the names of every Denny's waitress in Sacramento and Waikiki.

I like what Bulldogs football coach Derek Dooley said last year: “;College guys don't get tired; I worry about the coaches.”;

Maybe Trapasso was taking a nap when he decided to pinch-hit for Christian Johnson, who had parked one earlier, and then left in a batter who had already struck out twice, to end the game.

I've seen managers pinch-hit for guys who'd homered. Have seen it work and seen it fail.

I understand matchups and hunches, and that coaches have to decide based on a combination of them. But when your moves don't work and you lose, you get second-guessed and blamed.

Now, this week at Fresno State. Their record stinks, but the College World Series champs are like Punahou — the closer the finish line, the better they play.

Remember how average the Bulldogs were last season? Then they got it together and made a magical run all the way to the NCAA title. It's almost like they treat everything up to the WAC tourney like spring training.

We've heard rumblings that Trapasso, whose contract ends this year, may have recently gotten an agreement in principle on a one-year extension. Athletic director Jim Donovan said last night he'd talk again with his baseball coach about his future at the end of the season.

If the 'Bows don't turn things around soon, that could be a very short chat.

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Reach Star-Bulletin sports columnist Dave Reardon at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address), his “;Quick Reads”; blog at starbulletin.com, and twitter.com/davereardon.