[ RAINBOW BASEBALL ]
Hawaii is tied for second place
and not far behind Rice
Just what effect a weekend off from Western Athletic Conference action will have on the Hawaii baseball team is hard to judge, according to Rainbow coach Mike Trapasso.
"When you are on a roll, you want to keep playing. But, there is no question that our guys need this time off," Trapasso said. "Some of the guys have little injuries they have been playing through and hopefully the time off will let them heal for the stretch run."
The Rainbows climbed back above .500 (24-23, 11-10 WAC) with a sweep of Nevada last week and are tied for second place with San Jose State, two games behind front-runner Rice.
The Spartans go to intrastate rival and fifth-place Fresno State (8-10 WAC), and fourth-place Nevada (9-9) hosts last-place Louisiana Tech (8-13) in three-game series this week.
Nevada is a half-game behind UH and SJSU, and FSU is 1 1/2 back. Rice is idle this week.
Depending on this week's results, the conference race could be even tighter when the 'Bows resume play against Fresno State on May 12.
"There also is some mental fatigue. We need to recharge the batteries. It is not uncommon in college baseball for this (a bye week) to happen, but we're bringing someone (an opponent) in next year," said Trapasso, who gave the team three days off after Saturday's 8-0 victory. "When we come back (today) to practice we will go light, then get the players fired up again next week.
"Mathematically, we can control our own destiny, at least we put ourselves in that position. Three weeks ago that would not have been the case."
The UH defense has made just one error in winning six consecutive games. The team hit .295 to raise its season average 14 points to .264, an improvement, but still below what was expected in January.
Redshirt freshman center fielder Derek Dupree hit .435 the last two weeks to up his average from .184 to .279.
"Derek was hitting the ball hard early, but right at people. Then he went through a spell where he wasn't hitting the ball hard, but that changed," Trapasso said.
"In the two recent series, Derek and Esteban (Lopez) had some big hits for us. And Adam Roberts doesn't seem to get a hit until we get someone on base, but that is fine with us. Matt (Inouye) has started swinging the bat a lot better. Obviously all that helps."
Inouye has a five-game hitting streak. Designated hitter Nate Thurber was 7-for-19 the last two weeks to raise his average from .286 to .315.
The pitching remained solid, with the starters combining for a 3.52 ERA.
The bullpen recorded saves in three of the six wins. The relievers' combined ERA was 4.58, but without the five earned runs Nevada scored late in the series opener, that number dips to 2.57.