Rainbow baseball
opens season by
hosting UCLA

Second-year coach
Mike Trapasso has
20 new players

By Al Chase

The Hawaii Rainbows open their second season under head coach Mike Trapasso tomorrow night against UCLA at Murakami Stadium in the opener of a three-game weekend series.

Although the Rainbows swept the three-game series with the Bruins a year ago to even their record at 5-5, that unfortunately was not an omen for the remainder of the season. UH won just 11 more games. The Bruins did not fare much better, posting a 26-35 record and tying for seventh place in the Pac-10.

This is a new beginning for both teams intent on making last season a distant memory.

Trapasso has 20 new players, while UCLA coach Gary Adams recruited 10 freshmen and has nine more coming off redshirts and available for duty.

The Bruins already have four games that count in the bank and have demonstrated an ability to light up the scoreboard. They scored 38 runs in taking two of three games from Cal State-Northridge last weekend, but cooled down some Tuesday in an 8-3 loss to UC-Riverside.

On the negative side, the UCLA pitchers allowed 28 runs, although not all were earned, in four games.

The Rainbows have a victory over the alumni, which is nice, but not the same as playing a Division I opponent.

Just what is UH coach Mike Trapasso expecting in this season-opening series?

"That's the best question I've been asked this week," Trapasso said. "Who knows? It's what you get when you are dealing with 18- to 20-year-old kids who are, for the most part, playing their first game at the Division I level. You are looking to see how they react. You want to see if their eyes are saying, 'This is what I've been waiting for. This is what all the blood, sweat and tears are about.' "

Catcher Brian Bock, third baseman/outfielder Brent Cook and center fielder Tim Montgomery are the only starters from a year ago in the 2003 lineup. Everyone else is a freshman or a junior college recruit.

Trapasso will go with basically the same lineup that started the alumni game. Except for second baseman Isaac Omura and right fielder Joshua Green, it is a right-hand hitting lineup. This is more out of necessity than by design, even though UCLA's tentative starters in the first two games are left-handers.

"Obviously, you have to throw the first pitch to see what everyone has going. We want to go out and swing the bat, pitch well and play good defense. That's what we have been preparing for since the fall," said Trapasso.

Notes: A new booster organization, The Grand Slam Club, has been formed to provide support for the Rainbow baseball program. Warren Haruki is the president. He is joined on the board of directors by Duane Kurisu, Don Murphy, Roger Reeves and Don Robbs. For information on becoming a member, call 956-6247.

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