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H A W A I I _ S P O R T S


Thursday, January 18, 2001


HPU faces
familiar concern

The Hawaii Pacific University baseball team was an offensive machine last year. It could easily put up 10 runs.

Problem was, the pitching staff surrendered more runs than the offense produced, and the Sea Warriors finished a game under .500.

This year, sixth-year coach Allan Sato doesn't have the same long-ball power on his Division II squad as last year's 16-17 team. But offense still isn't his biggest concern -- pitching is again.

"Offense shouldn't be a problem even though there's no Gabe Gerhardt or Scott Suraci to bang the ball out of the ballpark," Sato said. "To get more on the win column, we must get solid pitching. We've got some pretty good freshmen and junior college guys coming in, and I think the pitching has gotten better."

The Sea Warriors no longer have the services of Eric Bentley, who was the staff workhorse with a team-high eight starts and 53 2/3 innings pitched. But Sato said freshman Matt Zachary out of Wood River High School in Idaho is one of those who will help fill the void, along with returning starters Keola McCallum, Kelton Otsuka and Eli Lloyd.

According to Sato, the biggest asset for this year's team will be the defense. It's easy to see why, with seven of eight position players being returning starters.

The lone newcomer projected to play everyday will be center fielder Corey Hanson, and he's already had two years of college experience at Salt Lake Community College (Utah).

HPU competes as an independent and will open its season today at 4 p.m. at Hans L'Orange Park in Waipahu with the first of four doubleheaders in five days against Sonoma State (Calif.).

With Sonoma State -- a perennially strong team -- as the opposition, and a month off after the series, Sato knows that these first few games will be a good barometer for the rest of the season.

"This year's team has kind of been an enigma so far," Sato said. "We're looking for someone rising above to assume leadership and we haven't seen that yet."

Thomas earns PacWest honor

Hawaii-Hilo's Alan Thomas was named Pacific West Conference Player of the Week on Monday.

The 6-foot-4 senior from Brooklyn, N.Y., helped the Vulcans snap a 23-game road losing streak dating back to the 1997-'98 season by pouring in 33 points with seven rebounds and six assists in a come-from-behind victory over Alaska Anchorage last Friday. For the three-game road trip completed Monday, Thomas scored 60 points.

The four local teams will battle amongst themselves for the first time this season starting tomorrow night.

Brigham Young-Hawaii (9-5, 3-2), tied for the lead in the Pacific Division and ranked sixth in the latest West Regional poll, will play at Hawaii-Hilo (6-8, 1-4) tomorrow and Saturday night before hosting West Region No. 9 Chaminade next Monday night.

The Silverswords (8-6, 2-3) have a home-and-home series with Hawaii Pacific (7-7, 2-3) tomorrow and Saturday night before their game against the Seasiders.

The Sea Warriors travel to Hilo to play the Vulcans on Monday night.

Brandon Lee,
Special to the Star-Bulletin

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