Hawaii hits SoCal for five-game trip


POSTED: Wednesday, March 24, 2010

It's hard to imagine Hawaii's baseball season began just 34 days ago.

Hawaii (11-9) faces Long Beach State (9-9) today to begin a span of five games in six days.

The Rainbows will then play three games at Cal State Fullerton (10-9) and wrap up the trip with a single game at San Diego (12-10) on Monday.

“;We've got our work cut out for us,”; Hawaii coach Mike Trapasso said. “;(They) are teams perennially ranked in the top 10 and that's awesome. It's a great opportunity for some of these guys to get better.”;

The Rainbows got healthy offensively against Air Force last weekend. Their team batting average jumped 31 points to .273 after hitting .376 against the Falcons.

Josh Slaats returned after missing a start to lower his ERA to 0.40 with 5 1/3 shutout innings. Hawaii allowed 12 runs in four games to lower its Western Athletic Conference-leading team ERA to 4.24, a full run better than the next closest team (Fresno State) while playing a schedule that's still ranked as one of the top-10 toughest in the country.

“;I thought a couple of series we really played well,”; Trapasso said. “;The Oregon (State) series we gave away a game and could have split, the Oregon series we pitched well and The Citadel was big for us because we got spanked twice and came back to split the series.






        » Who: Hawaii (11-9) at Long Beach State (9-9)

        » When: Today, 3:30 p.m. Hawaii time

        » Where: Blair Field, Long Beach, Calif.

        » TV: None

        » Radio: KKEA 1420-AM

“;I was real disappointed last week (against Southern Cal) with how we played. I know we were without Slaats and lost (Nate) Klein early, but the guys that went in didn't pitch well and didn't do what we're capable of doing.”;

A sweep of Air Force allowed the Rainbows to finish with a winning record. Now they face a different test as they try to continue their four-game winning streak on the road in a familiar part of the country for a lot of the players.

“;Everyone's excited to travel, especially to Southern California, because a lot of guys are from there and we'll have a lot of family and friends to support us,”; said pitcher Matt Sisto, one of 15 Rainbows from California. “;It's always a team-bonding thing going on the road together, so it'll be good for us.”;

Hawaii was over .500 (12-11) away from Les Murakami Stadium last year and had its two biggest wins of the season in its most recent road games, a doubleheader sweep of Fresno State that got the 'Bows into the WAC tournament.

Right-hander Zach Gallagher (0-1, 6.75) will start today against the Dirtbags out of the Big West Conference.

LBSU has won four of its last six and will start right-hander Nate Underwood (0-1, 3.38).

That could mean another start in the leadoff spot for left-handed hitting Matt Roquemore, who is 8-for-14 in his last four games to push his season average to .391.

Kolten Wong and Collin Bennett continue to lead UH offensively. Wong is 11th in the WAC with a .361 batting average and is third in the league with six steals.

Bennett is hitting .353 and has a team-high 15 RBIs.

Senior Kevin Macdonald returned Monday after missing two games with a knee injury and went 1-for-3 with two runs scored before being lifted for a replacement in the fifth.

Macdonald's knee collided with a baserunner on a play at first on Friday. He was replaced in the third inning by Easton Torigoe, whose grand slam in the fifth began a streak of 40 runs scored in 28 innings for the Rainbows.

Two to play in Washington

Washington state natives Collin Bennett and Zach Gallagher will return home to play for the Wenatchee AppleSox in the West Coast Summer League after the season ends, the team announced yesterday.

Gallagher played for the AppleSox last summer and went 2-1 with a 3.56 ERA in eight appearances.