Star-Bulletin Sports

Thursday, May 10, 2001



Rainbows, Vulcans
go at it, island-style

Baseball teams close the
season with 6 games over
the next 2 weekends

By Al Chase

The University of Hawaii Rainbows vs. the University of Hawaii-Hilo Vulcans is the friendly version of the Hatfields and McCoys.

The teams have played 102 baseball games since 1976, when Joey Estrella, a former player and assistant for long-time UH head coach Les Murakami, started the Vulcans' program.

For years, the two knew each other's game management plan backward and forward, could anticipate each other's moves and probably recognized a signal or two, although neither ever admitted to it.

This year Carl Furutani is the acting UH head coach and assistant Thomas Gushiken flashes the signals to Rainbow batters. Otherwise, not much else has changed as the teams prepare for two three-game Western Athletic Conference series over the next two weekends.

The respective booster clubs will have plenty of food for both teams after each game. The players, many of whom were high school opponents or teammates, will talk story. But between the first pitch and the last pitch, it will be war. There will be no easy games.

"The series between Hilo and UH has always been a competitive one, more than bragging rights. It's like the World Series. Your record at that time goes out the window. It's 0-0 and you're playing six games and you've got to win it all," Furutani said.

"It's all or nothing. That's the way we have to feel and I know they are approaching it that way."

Estrella, in his 25th season as UHH head coach, agreed.

"It seems the series is always toward the end of the season and it's always an interesting series," Estrella said. "No matter how the teams are doing, it's competitive. It's like the playoffs for both of us. It's friendly, but it's hard fought."

The six games mark the end of 13 collegiate careers.

The Hawaii-Hilo seniors are Ben Siff, Billy Rayl, Brian Rooke, Douglas Rhodes, Mike Hobbs, Justin Kaneshiro, Darin Miyake, Todd Jinbo and Ryan Petersen.

Wakon Childers, Danny Kimura, Matt Purtell and Patrick Scalabrini will close out their careers as Rainbows.

"We've really struggled of late," said Estrella. "I told the kids I was proud of them on the road trip. Everything and anything I did seemed not to work. This is a chance for us to regroup, to end the year in a positive way, to give our seniors a chance to go out right."

The Vulcans have lost 14 consecutive games and 31 of their last 33.

The Rainbows are coming off a three-game slide at Nevada, the fourth time they came up empty in a WAC series this season. They still have a chance to reach their goal of a winning season.

The victories will have a delightful, special taste for a lot of players and coaches the next two weekends.

Game Day

When: 6 p.m. tomorrow, 4 p.m. Saturday, 1 p.m. Sunday
Where: Francis Wong Stadium, Hilo
TV: None
Radio: Live, 1420-AM and 850-AM
Internet: Sportslive/listen.html

Probable starting pitchers

Hawaii (23-27, 10-20 WAC)

RHPJeff Coleman (Jr.)6-63.9379
RHPChad Giannetti (So.)4-56.0827
RHPSean Yamashita (Jr.)2-95.9759

Hawaii-Hilo (15-39, 3-27 WAC)

RHPZeb Watts (Jr.)0-75.5031
RHPBen Siff (Sr.)3-36.8231
RHPAnthony Bernal (Jr.)0-117.7059

Notes: The Rainbows and Vulcans have played 102 times, with UH holding an 87-15 edge, 44-3 on the Big Island. ... Gregg Omori and Patrick Scalabrini lead UH in multiple-RBI games with 14 and 10, respectively. ... Omori and Danny Kimura have the most multiple-hit games with 20 and 18, respectively. ... Cortland Wilson has the longest hitting streak for the Rainbows this season, 15 games. The longest current streak is eight games by Omori.

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