Star-Bulletin Sports

Thursday, May 17, 2001


UH baseball seniors (from left) Matt Purtell, Wakon
Childers, Patrick Scalbrini and Danny Kimura don
aloha shirts (as do their teammates) for "Aloha
Thursday" practices.

UH seniors
close out careers
this weekend

Childers, Kimura, Purtell
and Scalabrini all want to
remain involved in baseball

By Al Chase

All four seniors who conclude their University of Hawaii baseball careers this weekend expect to stay involved in the sport in the future.

Wakon Childers (Sand Springs, Okla.), Danny Kimura (Kailua), Matt Purtell (Sonoma, Calif.) and Patrick Scalabrini (Waterville, Quebec) settled in with the 'Bows for their final two collegiate seasons after starting elsewhere.

Kimura returned after two seasons with the Nebraska Cornhuskers. Purtell, who enjoyed spring training here with Santa Rosa Junior College, came back as a walk-on. Childers and Scalabrini were recruited out of Seminole State in Oklahoma.

Purtell and Childers have graduated. Kimura and Scalabrini expect to do so next May.

"It's just been a long road, but a happy road. It's been a joy coming out here. I came because I didn't want to be involved with another program (Oklahoma State his freshman year) like the one I left. I'm real happy with what I found out here. It's been fun, a good ride," Childers said.

The right-hander hasn't seen as much action on the mound as he would have liked. The scar tissue from Tommy John surgery a year ago has broken up, but now he is battling tendinitis. Childers would like a shot at pro ball, but only if his arm is 100 percent.

"The arm is fixed. It just needs time to heal. It's unfortunate it had to happen during my senior season," Childers said.

Scalabrini knew Hawaii was a whole new world from anything he had experienced, but he was ready to explore something different.

"I'm pretty sure I chose the best place to go and I have no regrets," the UH third baseman said. "It could have turned out better in baseball, but that's life. Personally, I was hoping to do better. I gave it all I had, played hard every day."

A sprained left wrist slowed the 'Bows cleanup hitter for a couple of weeks recently, but he returned to form last weekend in Hilo. Scalabrini also would like a chance at the professional level, but not at the expense of giving up his scholarship next year.

"Right now, my plan is to come back and graduate," he said. "Pro ball would have to be good financially. If they don't offer anything or barely something, I can't do it."

Kimura, who made a successful move from third base to first base this season, came home to hopefully start for the 'Bows and have fun playing in front of the home crowd. The move took time. Starting last fall, he fielded ground ball after ground ball to get adjusted to balls coming at him from a different angle.

"I've learned a lot. It's been a good experience," the Iolani graduate said. "At the beginning of this year, being one of the captains, I think I put added pressure on myself that affected the mental part of the game. I've learned to relax more, have fun, this being my last year."

Kimura's batting averaged hovered just above .200 early in the season, but now, with a good series this weekend, he can crack .300.

Purtell also is closing in on .300 after wielding a hot bat the past three weeks. He has batted either first of second in the lineup while playing second base, shortstop, or center field or serving as the designated hitter.

He has a knack for making things happen at the plate. His value to the team was rewarded this year when he received scholarship help.

"Other than not winning as many games as I would have liked, you couldn't ask for anything more in my experience here," said Purtell, who is on the waiting list for graduate school at Sonoma State University.

An anthropology major, he wants to be a high school teacher and coach.

"I'll teach anything --math, English, science. I'll wait awhile before I start coaching, but I will eventually," Purtell said.

Kimura's first priority after graduation is to check out opportunities with the Honolulu police and fire departments.

"Having a love for this game since I was small, I don't want to lose touch with it," Kimura said. "Playing in a summer league, coaching or even umpiring are possible options."

The highlight of his two UH seasons is just being able to play as a Rainbow.

"Not everyone gets the opportunity to play Division I baseball in your home state in front of family and friends. The things on the field just add to the whole experience," Kimura said.

Childers hopes to coach college baseball.

"This is all I've done. It's all I know, really. I know a lot of guys say things like that, but this is where I love to be, whether it's high school or junior college coaching," he said. "It's been my intention for a long time to be a Division I head coach. It will take time to get the respect, but I hope it happens pretty quick."

Scalabrini is majoring in history. He wants to be a high school teacher and coach and it doesn't matter on which side of the Canadian-American border the school is located.

All four would like the Rainbows to win the three games this weekend to finish 2001 with a winning record.

Plenty of tickets left for Saturday's game

There are about 1,400 tickets remaining for Saturday night's baseball game at Rainbow Stadium, when retiring University of Hawaii baseball coach Les Murakami will be honored.

Murakami will be honored at the end of the third inning.

Also that evening, the Chuck Leahey Award will be presented at 6 p.m. The first pitch between the Hawaii and the University of Hawaii-Hilo Vulcans is scheduled for 6:20 p.m.

Game Day

When: 6:35 p.m. today, 6:35 p.m. tomorrow, 6 p.m. Saturday
Where: Rainbow Stadium
TV: Live, KFVE
Radio: Live, 1420-AM

Orange, Blue levels $6
Red level $5
Ages 4-18 and 65+ $4
UH students $4

Parking $3

Probable starting pitchers

Hawaii (26-27, 13-20 WAC)

RHPJeff Coleman (Jr.)7-63.8984
RHPChad Giannetti (So.)5-55.7430
RHPSean Yamashita (Jr.)2-95.4966

Hawaii-Hilo (5-42, 3-30 WAC)

RHPZeb Watts (Jr.)0-75.4338
RHPRobert Shimabuku (So.)1-108.4940
RHPBen Siff (Sr.)1-87.2332

Notes: Gregg Omori leads the Rainbow regulars with a .344 batting average. He is tops in at-bats (215), hits (74), doubles (19), home runs (11), RBIs (51) and total bases (126). Patrick Scalabrini, the only Rainbow to appear in all 53 games, has scored the most runs (42) and drawn the most walks (25).

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