Friday, January 22, 1999
Teams using wood batsBy Al Chase
Hawaii and UCLA will use wood bats in their three-game, season-opening series this weekend at Rainbow Stadium.
This is the result of the on-going debate about aluminum bat standards and what has transpired since the NCAA baseball committee recommended changing the standards for the 1999 regionals and College World Series.
UCLA's bats are supplied by Easton. Hawaii's bats are supplied by Louisville Slugger.
Easton sent a notice with an indemnity clause to all schools it supplies saying Easton would be responsible for injuries caused by the use of its bats.
However, UCLA head coach Gary Adams received a telephone call from Pacific 10 Conference headquarters yesterday informing him the indemnity clause isn't valid in nonconference games.
Adams called UH head coach Les Murakami about the situation. Murakami called James Sasser of Louisville Slugger.
Sasser told Murakami that the company's attorneys are working on an indemnity clause, but it wouldn't be ready this weekend.
The alternative was to use wood bats in the three games.
"We have a contract with Easton, but Easton doesn't make wood bats, so I guess they can't sue us (if we use UH's Louisville Slugger bats)," Adams said. "I just wish we would use wood bats all the time."
Sasser promised Murakami a shipment of wood bats would arrive in time for tonight's opener.
"If they aren't here by noon, I'll get some wood bats," Murakami said.
Coach: Gary Adams (30th season, 985-712-12).
Probable starting pitchers: Sophomore left-hander Ryan Carter (3-1, 6.39 in 1998), sophomore left-hander Bobby Roe (4-2, 5.23), freshman right-hander Josh Karp.
Top players: Garrett Atkins, sophomore first baseman, who earned All-America honors in 1998 after hitting .383 including a 33-game hitting streak ... Chase Utley, sophomore second baseman, a 1998 Freshman All-American who hit .320 and set a school freshman record for home runs (15) ... Nick Lyon, sophomore center fielder, a five-tool player who hit .313 a year ago.
Interesting facts: Karp turned down a $2 million offer to sign with the Atlanta Braves after being drafted in the eighth round. He is only the second full-scholarship, out-of-state baseball player in UCLA history ... The Bruins are ranked No. 16 in Collegiate Baseball's preseason poll ... Hawaii leads the series, 22-18, after sweeping a three-game series at Rainbow Stadium last season ... Rainbow head football coach June Jones, who played for Murakami in 1973, will throw out the first pitch tonight ... UCLA was 9-22 on the road in 1998, UH was 3-12.
Keys to the series: Pitching. UCLA has young arms. "They're the same guys as last year, just better. This is a time where coaches are trying to learn what their players will do under fire," said Adams ... UH returns experienced pitchers who have to step up this season and be more consistent ... The Bruins worked long and hard on defense in the fall to correct a major weakness ... UH should be solid defensively with the only question mark in the outfield ... UCLA hits, but a damp weekend and a spacious outfield can produce long fly ball outs if the idea of line drives is ignored.
First pitch: Today, 6:35 p.m.; tomorrow, 1:05 p.m.; Sunday, 3:05 p.m.
On the air: Live on KCCN (1420-AM); tomorrow, Sunday live on KFVE (channel 5).