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Star-Bulletin Sports

Friday, March 10, 2000

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

By Dennis Oda, Star-Bulletin
Patrick Scalabrini is making a smooth transition
from junior college to Division I baseball.

feeling right
at home

The junior college transfer finds
his bat again after moving
back to third base


By Al Chase


The transition from junior college to Division I baseball is beginning to smooth out for Patrick Scalabrini.

After hitting .341 and .406 in two seasons at Seminole State, Scalabrini struggled with a new position - shortstop - and at the plate in the University of Hawaii's first four series of 2000.

He was hitting just .211 with six runs batted in when Santa Clara came to town.

In the third game of that series, Hawaii head coach Les Murakami decided to send Scalabrini back "home.' No, not to Canada, but to third base, the position Scalabrini had played the past seven years.


Bullet Who: TCU (7-14, 2-1) vs. Hawaii (10-11, 2-1).
Bullet When: 6:30 p.m. tonight and tomorrow; 3 p.m. Sunday.
Bullet Where: Rainbow Stadium.
Bullet TV: Live Sunday, KFVE (Channel 5).

Bullet RealAudio: Live 'Net broadcast Click Here

Danny Kimura, who opened the season as UH's third baseman, was having problems with defense and Murakami didn't want that to influence his hitting.

"Danny's arm is more accurate, but Patrick has quicker feet," Murakami said.

Scalabrini responded by hitting safely in six of the next seven games, going 9-for 26 (.346) with seven RBIs. He made two errors in the Cal State Sacramento opener, but has handled 37 other chances successfully.

"When I play third base, it all happens without me thinking," Scalabrini said. "At other positions I had to think about what to do if the ball is hit this way or that way.

"Playing third makes me feel better. I feel I can help the team so much more there."

Granted, some of his throws are an adventure, but Scalabrini has been fortunate to have good gloves on the receiving end.

Despite lifting his average to .270, the 6-foot-1, 186 pounder still has a tendency to shift his weight to the front foot too soon. He admits to trying to do too much and maybe changing his style too much because of Rainbow Stadium.

"Even when it is going good, I still catch myself squeezing the bat too hard. At least I can see it, and try to correct it," he said.

By George F. Lee, Star-Bulletin
Patrick Scalabrini gets back to first base ahead of
the tag by UCLA first baseman eric Reese.

"Junior college is for hitters. You see one good pitcher a series. Here they are all pretty good and more consistent. I haven't really faced a bad pitcher here."

Scalabrini worked for his father, Claude, for two years after graduating from La Frontaliere High School in Coaticook, Quebec, Canada. There was no sports program at his high school, but he played club baseball in the summer, hockey in the winter and spent 11 years in judo.

The desire to play college baseball led him south to Seminole State in Oklahoma. After two solid seasons, he was recruited by Alabama, New Mexico and UH.

His batting style might have been more suited to UNM's Lobo Field and its thin air, but the lure of Hawaii won out.

"I always wanted to visit Hawaii and knew I would regret it if I didn't even though it's far from home," Scalabrini said.

He didn't make a recruiting trip here, but had the advantage of calling former Seminole teammate Wakon Childers, the Rainbows closer last year.

"Wakon talked a lot about the stadium and the crowds," Scalabrini said. "I didn't know how good the team was, but I saw they were ranked last year and I saw the stats."

Professional scouts talk to him when he played for Quebec in the 1997 Canada Games and after last season at Seminole State. There were offers, but with little or no money.

Scalabrini decided the UH scholarship was worth more.



Purtell: From
visitor to player

Matt Purtell came to Hawaii for "spring training" with the Santa Rosa Junior College baseball team in 1997.

After helping the Bear Cubs win two Bay Valley Conference championships, he had to decide between the University of Hawaii and Oregon State as the place to walk-on to continue his education and playing career.

"When I was here in 1997, I had a good time. I liked the stadium and the weather," Purtell said. "My coach, Ron Myers called the UH coaches to see if they were interested, but I didn't make up my mind until July."

Since Kenn Wakakuwa was behind the plate catching Rich Snider, Purtell started at second base in Monday night's series finale with Rice. He was 2-for-3 with a walk, scored three runs and drove in the third and fourth runs in the six-run eighth inning.

"Purtell's hit broke it open," said Rainbow head coach Les Murakami.

Murakami has been using three catchers, in part, to keep Wakakuwa from being physically beat like he was at the end of last season. However, the UH head coach plans to use Wakakuwa at catcher twice in each series.

"He just calls too good a game, not to catch him twice," Murakami said.

This just might open the door more for Purtell and give him a chance to show what he can do on a more regular basis.

"I'm not used to not starting, but I've gotten into a number of games and have been able to contribute in other ways," Purtell said.

No more

After trying to switch-hit for two plus years and having limited success from the left side of the plate, redshirt sophomore outfielder Derek Honma was told by Murakami to hit from the right side only for the remainder of the 2000 season.

In 35 at-bats from the left side against opposing right-handers, Honma was hitting a paltry .114. Turned around, he feasted on opposing left-handers with a .400 batting average.

Now, he will have to get used to hitting right-handed against opposing right-handers. He began against Rice and all three Owl starting pitchers were right-handers. Honma was 0-for-10. He'll get more exposure this week as Texas Christian is scheduled to start three right-handers.

Is this the year?

"Everything is kind of reversed from last year," said Scooter Martines after the Rainbows took the Rice series, 2-1.

The junior leftfielder was referring to the 'Bows 14-2 start a year ago, including a three-game sweep of Wichita State. That was followed by a 2-8 start in Western Athletic Conference play.

In 1998, the 'Bows were 16-3 entering WAC play and promptly lost seven of their first nine conference games.

This year, they were 8-10 before facing Rice. Could the 2000 numbers be an omen for the rest of the season?

By Al Chase, Star-Bulletin

UH Athletics
Ka Leo O Hawaii

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