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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Tuesday, March 26, 2002

Hawai'i-Hilo beats HPU in Easter Baseball opener

By Stacy Kaneshiro
Advertiser Staff Writer

All things considered, these are happy days for the University of Hawai'i-Hilo baseball team.

University of Hawai'i-Hilo starter Jason Castro worked seven-plus effective innings, spacing seven hits while striking out seven.

Eugene Tanner • The Honolulu Advertiser

The Vulcans beat Hawai'i Pacific, 8-3, last night in the opening day of the Ohana Hotels Rainbow Easter Baseball Tournament to extend their winning streak to five, the total number of wins they had last year.

Designated hitter Daniel Lockett drove in four runs for Hilo in support of Jason Castro's pitching.

Castro worked seven-plus innings, giving up seven hits and striking out seven.

The Vulcans improved to 9-25-1 overall and 1-0 in the tournament.

Jonathan Torres had three hits for HPU (17-17, 0-1).

After winning one of their first 22 games, the Vulcans have won eight of their last 12.

This from a program searching for an identity. The Vulcans play a Division I schedule and one would not know the team's status by its budget.

Hawai'i-Hilo coach Joey Estrella praises Darren Chu after Chu tripled in the first inning.

Eugene Tanner • The Honolulu Advertiser

The program's only coach, Joey Estrella, is the only full-time paid coach in baseball. His assistants — Butch McNally and Bud Bailey — are paid stipends, not salaries. Estrella has no budget for recruiting. He scouts on the Mainland when on personal trips. Some players are recruited via recommendations sight unseen. Two-thirds of the team is from Hawai'i.

Compounding the matter is the Vulcans have no permanent field they can truly call home. Their own campus field lacks a drainage system, rendering the field useless after any type of heavy rain, which is frequent in Hilo.

Estrella said he can use only a portion of the outfield to practice at the campus field and he must schedule workouts at the county-owned Wong Stadium based on availability. Games also have been played at Kona's Simmons Field.

"We ask (our players) to go above and beyond to play on three different fields," Estrella said.

Trips a major expense

Estrella said about 60-70 percent of the baseball budget is for travel. After a front-loaded schedule of home games, Hilo's two road trips are to Honolulu for the Easter Tournament and a week-long visit to the West Coast to end the season. Estrella added part of the budget includes subsidies for teams traveling to Hilo.

Still, the Vulcans will remain Division I at least through next season. (UH systems president Evan Dobelle indicated earlier to The Advertiser that he would consider UHH going Division I in all sports.) Already scheduled for next season are Tennessee, Wichita State and Centenary at home. Away games include UH-Manoa, Washington and Sacramento State. Estrella said some teams have already inquired about the 2004 season.

Estrella said next year is the last year of his three-year contract.

"Beyond that depends on the athletic director," Estrella said.

• • •

• • •

• San Jose State 12, UC Riverside 4: Gabe Lopez batted 3-for-6 with two doubles for the Spartans.

Dino Quintero, Hector Zamora, Adam Shorsher and Nathan Corrick added two hits apiece for San Jose State (20-9, 1-0). Zamora also had two doubles.

Frank Esposito allow three runs, one earned, in 5¡ innings for the Spartans. Donald Gemmell pitched the final 3á innings. Each had three strikeouts.

The Highlanders (15-11, 0-1) took a 3-2 lead in the third on an RBI double by Scott Powis, but the Spartans responded with 10 runs thereafter, including five in the eighth.

UC Riverside is in its season debut as a Division I program.

• • •

• Birmingham-Southern 6, Lewis-Clark State 5: Pinch-hitter Jonathan Sanford's bases-loaded sacrifice fly scored Scott Asher with the winning run in the bottom of the ninth inning in a rematch of last year's NAIA national title game.

The Warriors (18-7, 0-1) trailed 5-3 before scoring single runs in the top of the eighth and ninth innings to tie the score at 5.

The Panthers (14-11, 1-0), who moved to Division I this season, were led by designated hitter Mac Godwin, who was 3-for-4 with two RBIs. Tyler Sullivan (1-0) picked up the win in relief.

Second baseman Micah Furtado (Kapa'a 2000) batted 1-for-4 with a run scored for L-C State.