Rainbows come home energized


POSTED: Friday, April 30, 2010

To put it simply, it's go time.

Twelve games remain on the Hawaii baseball schedule to determine the fate of this year's team.

Will the Rainbows (21-20, 4-8 Western Athletic Conference) pull their way out of the bottom of the WAC and fulfill the potential that made them one of the preseason favorites?

That answer begins to take shape tonight as Hawaii welcomes Nevada (22-15-1, 3-4-1) to Les Murakami Stadium for a crucial four-game series to begin the stretch run toward the WAC tournament in four weeks.

“;It's time to make a move,”; Hawaii coach Mike Trapasso said. “;We have to play our best baseball starting (today).”;

The Rainbows finished 4-5 on their recent nine-game road trip, ending with a split at Louisiana Tech.






        » Nevada (22-15-1, 3-4-1 Western Athletic Conference) at Hawaii (21-20, 4-8)


» Tonight, 6:35 p.m.; Tomorrow (doubleheader), 3:05 p.m.; Sunday, 1:05 p.m.


» Les Murakami Stadium


» TV: KFVE Ch. 5 (Today and Sunday)


» Radio: KKEA 1420-AM




Hawaii found some offense in Ruston, La., scoring 35 runs in four games. Jeff Van Doornum led the way by hitting .529 (9-for-17) with four home runs and seven RBIs in the series.

The Rainbows managed a split after winning a 14-13 game in which they trailed by six runs before giving up the lead, only to come back and win it with two runs in the eighth.

Hawaii also won the opener 10-0, shutting out a vaunted LaTech lineup while roughing up Bulldogs ace Jamey Bradshaw for nine runs in four innings to hand him his first loss.

“;For whatever reason when we got back from that Southern California swing we didn't have that same energy that we had at the beginning of the year,”; Trapasso said. “;We saw that toughness and energy come back in those last couple of games at LaTech so that really made me feel good.”;

The Rainbows will have their full complement of pitchers as Josh Slaats (4-2, 1.71 ERA), Sam Spangler (2-6, 4.38) and Nate Klein (1-1, 7.36) start in consecutive order for the first time since early March.

Klein started his first game since March 12 last Sunday, but plans to be at full strength when he takes the mound in the second game of tomorrow's doubleheader.

“;Watching my pitch counts was the main thing for me last week, but now I'm hoping to get everything going this week,”; Klein said. “;Fastball command is not where I would like it to be, which is a little strange. You'd think it'd be offspeed command, but hopefully I get that back and I'll be back to where I was before I got hurt.”;

Hawaii leads the WAC in team ERA (4.91) and fielding percentage (.975), but hasn't gotten the offensive output (WAC-low .275 batting average) at times to cash in on solid pitching performances.

With Van Doornum (.336, 8 HR, 20 RBI), Greg Garcia (.322, 9 doubles, 25 RBI) and David Freitas (.296, 6 HR, 30 RBI) hitting their strides, it'll be key for Hawaii to score at least four-to-five runs a game to avoid spoiling outstanding pitching performances as it did the first two weeks of league play.

“;You look back at Sam's two starts. We lost 1-0 and 3-2 and if we score a couple of runs in those we're doing OK,”; Trapasso said. “;Those are the types of games we have to win.”;

The difference between winning and losing those two games is either being in last or in a tie for third. Outside of league-leading New Mexico State, the other six teams in the WAC are separated by only three games.