Star-Bulletin Sports

Monday, April 5, 1999

R A I N B O W _ B A S E B A L L


Rainbows must do
better in WAC’s
second half

By Al Chase


The Hawaii Rainbows landed in the rarefied atmosphere of Colorado Springs, Colo., yesterday, but a lofty position in the Western Athletic Conference baseball standings wasn't in their baggage.

The Rainbows are lodging in the Garden of the Gods Holiday Inn, but their conference season definitely has not been made in heaven _ so far.

And, the winter wonderland scene right off a Currier and Ives lithograph that greeted the UH party that motored into the spacious Air Force Academy campus was not what Hawaii head coach Les Murakami wanted to see.

The Rainbows had planned to practice at Falcon Field yesterday, but that was wishful thinking after Utah and the Falcons managed to play just one of three scheduled games there this past weekend because of snow.

"We're still under snow, and it snowed again today (Sunday) for about three hours," Murakami said. "We probably can't even practice tomorrow. It's 20 something outside."

More ominous than the cloud cover for the Rainbows is the condition of the left arms belonging to Jamie Aloy and Troy Yoshimasu.

Only a week ago, while reviewing the positives of the Rainbow Easter Tournament, Murakami said solidifying the UH pitching staff was the most important.

Aloy and Yoshimasu have sore left elbows. Aloy has been scratched from his starting assignment tomorrow. Left-hander Dusty Bergman will take over, weather permitting. Yoshimasu, pulled after six innings in last Saturday's 3-1 win over Nevada-Las Vegas, is day-to-day.

"At one time we had our whole pitching staff intact and wondered about how we were going to use our relievers who were pitching so good," Murakami said. "Now, the three starters we had to begin the season are out."

The third original starter, Randon Ho, is out indefinitely, perhaps up to four weeks, said Murakami.

All of this happens at a time when Hawaii is starting the second half of the WAC schedule after an uninspiring 5-10 first half. Should the Rainbows reverse the numbers in the second half, that computes to a 15-15 league record which might make UH a bubble team when it comes to qualifying for the WAC's postseason tournament.

Murakami says .500 might be enough to get to the tournament.

"I think so, because everyone is knocking everybody else off," he said.

What's problematic for the 'Bows is nine of the remaining 15 league games are on the mainland. They have drawn a blank (0-6) in that department this season.

Also, UH batters have been collectively meek the past two weeks despite an Easter Tournament title. Among the regulars, Michael Dartt was 1-for-12; Aloy 1-for-7; Scooter Martines coming off a bruised left shoulder, 2-for-10; Kenn Wakakuwa, 1-for-8, and Lars Hansen, 1-for-7, vs. UNLV.

Hitting at Falcon Field, weather permitting, just may be the tonic some of the Rainbows need. However, the 20 hits Hawaii totaled in three UNLV games might not be enough to win one game against the Air Force. No lead is safe at Falcon Field.

In one game last season, the Rainbows took a 17-4 lead into the seventh inning and ended up losing 19-17.

Following this series, Hawaii hosts Rice and New Mexico at Rainbow Stadium and has a week-long road trip to Utah and San Diego State. Going 10-5 would certainly signify a conference turnaround.

UH is in eighth place in the WAC standings with four of the next five opponents (Rice is 12-3) saddled with losing records. What might be more disappointing is the fact WAC tournament host Fresno State is in last place. Should the Bulldogs fail to qualify for the tournament, Hawaii would host the tournament and gain the home field advantage. But the 'Bows have to qualify first.



		Conference 			Overall
		W	L	Pct.	GB	W	L	Pct.	
Texas Christ	12	2	.857	--	20	13	.606
Rice		12	3	.786	1/2	32	7	.821
San Jose St. 	7	5	.583	4	16	16	.500
Nevada-LV 	7	5	.583	4	18	21	.462
Brigham Young 	7	7	.500	5	17	17	.500
New Mexico 	7	8	.467	5-1/2	18	19	.487
San Diego St. 	5	7	.417	6	17	18	.486
Air Force 	2	5	.286	6-1/2	16	17	.485
Hawaii 		5	10	.333	7-1/2	23	13	.639
Utah		3	7	.273	7	15	15	.500
Fresno St. 	2	10	.167	10	16	24	.400
New Mexico & San Jose St. played one tie game.

Saturday's results
Hawaii 3, Nevada-Las Vegas 1
New Mexico 11, Fresno St. 10 (1st)
New Mexico 19, Fresno St. 11 (2nd)
Rice 14, San Jose State 4
San Diego State 12, Hawaii-Hilo 9
Texas Christian 9, Brigham Young 6 (1st)
Texas Christian at BYU (2nd, canceled)
Utah at Air Force (2), canceled, snow

Today's games
Brigham Young at Utah (nonconference)
Stanford at San Jose State
Tomorrow's games
Hawaii at Air Force, 1 p.m.
New Mexico at New Mexico State
San Diego State at Long Beach State
Southern Utah at Fresno State
Texas Tech at Texas Christian

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