Sea Warriors bid aloha to nine seniors
By Stacy Kaneshiro
Advertiser Staff Writer
Both had planned to go away for college. Both ended up at Hawai'i Pacific University.
Shortstop Bryce Uegawachi and outfielder Daric Stith are among nine seniors whose eligibility with the Sea Warriors' baseball program will end with a noon doubleheader Sunday against Hawai'i-Hilo at Hilo's Wong Stadium.
The other seniors are outfielder Tom Peters, third baseman Ryan Blood, first baseman Jeremiah Yacap, catcher Tyrus Matsumoto and pitchers Kelton Otsuka, Palani Nunes and Eli Lloyd.
Uegawachi considered going to Lewis-Clark State as a walk-on after an all-star career at Kaiser High. But HPU came armed with a scholarship.
"It was a nice experience because I could play at home," Uegawachi said. "It was good for me because of my size (5 feet 6, 155 pounds), I felt Division II baseball would have been a lot better for me."
He is nicknamed "The Wizard" for his fielding prowess, but the highlight of his career was driving in the go-ahead run in a 9-8 upset of Florida State as a freshman in 1998.
"There were a lot of good times, but being so young, being a freshman, that stood out the most," Uegawachi said.
Baseball wasn't Stith's initial intent when he got here from Boise, Idaho. He took a trip to Hawai'i his senior year of high school to check on HPU's marine science program. He returned home with a baseball scholarship.
"I still wanted to play," he said. "But I was looking for something to fall back on if it didn't happen."
Lewis-Clark State also tried to recruit him but got to him too late.
As for a career highlight, Stith said it was the 1999 season, when the Sea Warriors were 32-12 and played in the Rainbow Easter tournament.
"There were all those big-time teams and to compete against them was fun," he said.
Stith has since changed his major to international business and will receive his degree next month. He will also leave as the school's career leader in doubles with 36 and counting. He said he is considering returning to HPU for graduate school.
Meanwhile, junior infielder Wade Taguchi set an HPU record for RBIs in a season when he got his 46th last Wednesday at Cal State-Chico. The previous mark of 45 was set in 1999 by Gabe Gerhardt.
Texas express continues: The Rainbows will try to snap a two-game losing skid against the nationally ranked Rice Owls at Reckling Park in Houston. Game times are 2 p.m. tomorrow and Friday, and 9:35 a.m. Saturday, all Hawai'i times. The games will be broadcast live on KCCN AM 1420.
The Rainbows are winless in nine games since 1998 at Rice, which leads the Western Athletic Conference at 20-4 and holds a 4 1/2-game lead over second-place Texas Christian.
The probable starters for UH are Jeff Coleman tomorrow, Sean Yamashita on Friday and Chad Giannetti on Saturday.
Giannetti, who pitched 6á innings of relief against TCU on Monday, is likely to replace Wakon Childers. Childers lasted only two innings Monday because of discomfort in his throwing arm.
In their series in Hawai'i, the Owls took 2-of-3.
Staying put: The Vulcans, who will not be retained as an affiliate member of the WAC, will keep their Division I status as an independent, coach Joey Estrella said.
He said there is talk of starting an NCAA Division II conference that would include UH-Hilo, HPU, Western Oregon and Lewis-Clark State. The two Northwest area programs would have to switch their affiliations from NAIA to NCAA if the conference is established.
A conference would help both Hawai'i programs in scheduling since both could share opponents who travel here.
The Vulcans are already working on next year's schedule, which will feature Florida State and Brigham Young, as well as opponents in the Rainbow Easter tournament. They also are trying to sign Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo, Villanova, Pepperdine, Oregon State and Pacific.