Woeful statistics reflect Rainbows' on-field struggle
By Stacy Kaneshiro
Advertiser Staff Writer
The root of the University of Hawai'i baseball team's woes can't be hidden.
The Rainbows are last in the seven-team Western Athletic Conference in fielding, second to last in pitching and second to last in hitting.
And 17 of their 30 players have varying degrees of injuries. That does not include the departure of pitcher Chris Quiroz. He left the team after reaggravating an injury he had before enrolling at UH, acting coach Carl Furutani said.
That's just some of the evidence of the Rainbows' on-field struggles that have left them in a tie for last place with Hawai'i-Hilo in the WAC. Both are 3-12.
But rumors surfaced last week that underclassmen were concerned about their status next year, when a new coach takes over for Les Murakami's regime.
Murakami announced after last season that this would be his final year. He is rehabilitating from a stroke he suffered Nov. 2.
"It's the first time I heard about it," UH athletic director Hugh Yoshida said. "If it's an issue, I'll visit with the team."
A successor has yet to be named and Yoshida said he does not know when that will occur. But he said a report that the new coach won't be announced until after July 1 was not true.
Sources have told The Advertiser that Arizona State's Pat Murphy has been offered the job.
Twenty-four players still have eligibility remaining after this season.
Furutani said he does not think the players have been distracted by the situation.
"They play for the moment," he said. "If anything, it should make them play better. We have a lot of young guys out there, so there's a lack of maturity. But they don't give up. They play hard to the end."
As for the players' status for next year, Furutani said, "We tell them just play the best you can. That's something to be determined by the next guy. I'm sure they'll get the first shot (at making the team)."
If anything, the Rainbows' focus should be on a three-game WAC series with San Jose State (15-9-1, 5-6) starting Friday.
The Spartans are opposites of the Rainbows. They lead the WAC in fielding, committing half the errors (22) of UH in about the same number of games. Opponents are only 55 percent successful in stolen base attempts against the Spartans. The league average is 65 percent.
The Rainbows will stay with the same starting rotation of Jeff Coleman on Friday, Sean Yamashita on Saturday and Wakon Childers on Sunday.
This also might be the last weekend of action for freshmen Gary Ahu Jr., an infielder, and Ikaika Faraon, a pitcher. The end of the San Jose State series marks the midway point of the season and they can't play after that to qualify for a redshirt season.
The Spartans had a seven-game win streak that began with a three-game sweep of the Rainbows March 1-3 in San Jose. But the Spartans were swept by Rice over the weekend before beating St. Mary's, 15-2, yesterday.
San Jose State's probable starting pitchers are Chris Sherman (3-2, 3.43 ERA), Tim Adinolfi (3-3, 5.06) and Jeremy Rogelstad (2-2, 4.17).
The Spartans' offense is ignited by left fielder Junior Ruiz (.396, 4 HRs, 24 RBIs).
Island hopping: The Texas Christian Horned Frogs (17-9, 8-2) hop over to the Big Island for a three-game WAC series with the Vulcans (4-19, 3-12).
The Vulcans snapped an 11-game losing streak on Sunday by beating Nevada, 11-9, at Reno.
The Frogs completed a three-game sweep of the Rainbows on Monday, outscoring them 32-16 and pounding out 48 hits, 13 for extra bases. They hit .400 as a team against UH.
Easter parade: The Sea Warriors (16-10) are on a nine-game winning streak after sweeping an eight-game series from Teikyo-Post of Waterbury, Conn., last week.
HPU's next games will be in the Rainbow Easter tournament, which starts Monday.
The seven-team field features host Hawai'i, HPU, Kita-Kyushu of Japan, Centenary, California-Santa Barbara, Wichita State and last year's tourney champion Lewis-Clark State.
AROUND THE HORN
King of Ks: Nebraska pitcher Shane Komine (Kalani '98) is two strikeouts shy of becoming the school's all-time strikeout leader.
The junior right-hander will get his chance to break the record of 289 set by Mike Zajeski (1988-1992) on Friday, when the Cornhuskers play host to Missouri in a Big 12 series.
Last week, Komine (5-1, 3.98 ERA) struck out a season-high 12 in a 13-1 win against Northwestern State (Natchitoches, La.). He allowed three hits and walked none in eight innings. It was his 12th career double-digit strikeout game.
Ouch!: Arizona State outfielder Jonah Martin (Kamehameha '96) is batting .333 (23 for 69), way below the team's batting average of .361. But the ASU single-season record-holder for hit batsmen (29) leads his team with a .515 on-base percentage. He is tied for the team lead in walks with 18 and, of course, leads all teammates with nine hit batsmen.
His 29 hit batsmen in 2000 ties him for fourth all-time nationally.
Pulling rank: WAC-leading Rice (21-5, 11-1) is No. 1 in the Baseball Weekly/ESPN and Collegiate Baseball rankings, but No. 2 in Baseball America. Stanford is No. 1 in the latter's rankings.