Rainbows embark on season-ending road test
By Stacy Kaneshiro
Advertiser Staff Writer
Final exams end tomorrow for the University of Hawai'i, but its baseball season is still going on.
The Rainbows finish their season on the road the next two weekends in Western Athletic Conference play. They open a three-game series Saturday at Nevada, then close at Fresno State May 24-26.
At 16-34 and 5-19 in the WAC, the Rainbows can only play for improving their record already tied for the most losses in the school's program, matching 1997's 22-34 record and their standing in the six-team conference. Nevada (21-29 overall) is fourth at 7-17.
This hasn't been a conventional week for the Rainbows. They held their only home practice Tuesday after having their usual Monday off. They were off yesterday because the state high school tournament is being played at Les Murakami Stadium from 11:30 a.m. through the evening. They departed early this morning for Reno via San Francisco, so the all-day travel will force them to miss another day of practice. But they will work out tomorrow.
"At this time of year, you just try to hit a little bit to stay sharp," UH coach Mike Trapasso said.
Junior Chris George will continue to be the game one pitcher, but freshman Ricky Bauer will move to the second spot. Sean Yamashita was the game two starter in the past six series. Trapasso said he is looking at a number of pitchers to start game three.
"It could still be Sean," he said. "It could Bryan Lee, Aaron Pribble or it could be Quag (William Quaglieri)."
It will depend on who is pressed into relief in the earlier games, Trapasso said.
Pribble, a senior, will make the trip, skipping Sunday's graduation. He will graduate with honors (3.94 grade point average). He had the option to play or take part in commencement exercises, but he never raised the issue, Trapasso said.
"It's just the type of kid he is," Trapasso said. "He's just a special guy."
Selection process: The NCAA is preparing for its selection of regional teams on May 26. Because of events of Sept. 11 and the effects they have had on travel, the composition of regionals is expected to change. In an effort to reduce travel, the regionals are more likely to be composed of teams in their true regions, according to an article in Baseball America Online. That might mean two teams from a same conference in the same regional. It also means some quality teams from strong regions might be left out.
Trapasso said the new selections process is not likely to hurt UH down the road, when it might be a regional contender, because the strength of college baseball is in the South and Southeast. Some teams of the stronger conferences in those areas might otherwise be placed in other regions. Under the new setup, that's not likely to happen.
"From our standpoint, it shouldn't be an odd-man-out situation because we're still under-represented in the West," Trapasso said. "With our strength of schedule, non-conference in particular that we always play, once we start winning and have a winning record, it would be real hard to keep us out."
While at Georgia Tech, he recalled a year the Yellow Jackets didn't make the regionals despite having the 27th-best ratings percentage index.
"The easiest way is to settle it on the field and not put it in the hands of the committee," he said.