Star-Bulletin Sports

Monday, May 24, 1999

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


Rainbows left
out of NCAAs

Rice is the only Western
Athletic Conference squad chosen
to play in the the 64-
team field

By Al Chase


Hawaii did not receive a bid to the NCAA baseball tournament today.

Western Athletic Conference champion Rice received the league's automatic bid and was seeded No. 8 nationally. The Owls (52-11) are the lone WAC team advancing to a regional for the second consecutive season

The Rainbows (37-20) were considered to have a chance for an at-large bid if two WAC teams made the tournament.

"There was more parity at the bottom," said Dick Rockwell, chairman of the NCAA baseball selection committee. "Picking the first 56 teams was easy, but not the rest (eight more teams to round out the 64-team field).

"We spent over an hour on some teams. Strength of schedule outside the conference was the deciding factor."

"Ours cannot be strength of schedule," said Hawaii head coach Les Murakami about one possible reason UH was not selected.

Hawaii was 19-4 against nonconference Division I teams, including three-game sweeps of UCLA (30-29) and Wichita State (57-12), both tournament-bound teams.

What might have hurt the Rainbows was the limited success other WAC teams had in their nonconference games. Most play one or two games during the week. This season there were far too many losses in those games.

"It's still surprising because the WAC has a guy (New Mexico head coach Rich Alday) in there (on the selection committee)," Murakami said. "It's surprising to me the WAC only got one of 11 teams. I thought we would get two, not three maybe. But, you never know about the committee.

"A lot of teams picked were from the South. It seemed that way to me. I don't know who they played, but they all got 40-something wins."

There was a day when Murakami would say 40 wins was the magic number to receive a regional berth. This season he thought two wins at the WAC tournament (giving UH 38 victories) would be enough.

It wasn't.

And, only the baseball selection committee members know how close or how far away the Rainbows were from receiving an at-large berth.

The national seedings had Miami, Fla. (41-13), No. 1 followed by Florida State (48-12), Cal State Fullerton (44-11), Baylor (46-13), Alabama (46-14), Stanford (43-13), Texas A&M (46-14) and Rice (52-11).

Twenty-nine teams received automatic bids for winning conference titles.

The last time Hawaii played in a regional was 1993 when the Rainbows received an at-large bid.


Hawaii placed two players on the WAC all-tournament baseball team: shortstop Corey Miller and designated hitter Scooter Martines.


The four-day tournament in Fresno, Calif., drew a total of 4,038 fans. One can only hope the WAC presidents, league administrators and school athletic directors view this as a complete embarrasment and never again conduct a tournament at a site where the host is not participating. And this is no fault of the Fresno State people, who ran a very well-organized, first-class event ... Rice has won three consecutive WAC titles without losing a game in the tournament. The Owls have outscored their opponents in the championship game the past three seasons by a a combined 44-6 score. That's what happens when a team has pitching depth. Saturday's 15-run margin of victory was the biggest in WAC championship game history.

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