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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, May 9, 2003

UH seniors persevere through changes

By Stacy Kaneshiro
Advertiser Staff Writer

The final homestand for the University of Hawai'i baseball season also means the last home games for eight seniors.

Playing in their final homestand for the Rainbows are, from left, Justin Cayetano, Arthur Guillen, Julian Russell, Brian Bock, Brent Cook, Bryan Lee, Chris George and Kevin Gilbride.

Jeff WIdener • The Honolulu Advertiser

The Rainbows play Louisiana Tech in a three-game series starting tonight. Besides trying to escape from the Western Athletic Conference cellar, the Rainbows (26-23 overall, 7-17 WAC) need to win at least three of their final seven games — they close out the year with four road games — to secure a winning season, a far cry from last year's 16-40 finish, the worst in the program's history.

Still, this weekend is for the seniors. Half of them — catcher Brian Bock, pitcher Bryan Lee, and outfielders Arthur Guillen and Kevin Gilbride — played for three different head coaches in Les Murakami, Carl Furutani and now Mike Trapasso. They have experienced the end of one era and the beginning of another.

For infielders Brent Cook and Julian Russell, and pitchers Chris George and Justin Cayetano, they were among the first players Trapasso called upon in the transition. Their time was brief, but appreciated.

Some had memorable games.

For Lee, though seldom used this season, his highlight came in the season opener of 2002 when he allowed two runs on eight hits getting a no-decision against Florida State. The Rainbows won Trapasso's coaching debut, 3-2, with a two-run ninth inning.

• What: Western Athletic Conference baseball.

• Who: Louisiana Tech (16-30 overall, 8-16 WAC) vs. Hawai'i (26-23, 7-17).

• When: 6:35 tonight and tomorrow; 1:05 p.m. Sunday.

• Where: Les Murakami Stadium

• Parking: $3

• Tickets: $6 Blue and Orange levels; $5 Red level (adults); $4 Red level (65-years-and-old, students K-12 and UH students with IDs).

• Radio: KKEA 1420 AM will broadcast all games live.

• TV: K5 will broadcast all games live.

• Series history: Louisiana Tech leads series, 6-4.

• Promotions: Tonight is Military Appreciation Night, sponsored by the Hawai'i National Guard. Military personnel with valid military ID will be allowed admission for $1. On Sunday, UH Federal Credit Union is handing out 1,000 team photos.

• Probable starters:

Tonight—LT LH Adam Kirkendall (3-8, 5.04) vs. UHM RH Ricky Bauer (3-4, 2.84)

Tomorrow—LT RH Jon Lockwood (2-3, 4.50) vs. UHM RH Chris George (7-6, 4.94)

Sunday—LT TBA vs. UH TBA

For Bock, who has hit well on the road, his thrill was being able to play in front of his parents, grandparents and girlfriend at Fresno State in March. He hit two home runs in the series.

But for one senior his unforgettable moment came off the field. Actually, more like off-island.

Guillen and roommate/teammate Tim Montgomery went swimming off of Makapu'u in the fall. Guillen started drifting. And drifting.

"Tim was 10 feet away from me and I was yelling," said Guillen, adding Montgomery never heard him. "I was trying to catch a good wave and the next thing you know I'm in Moloka'i or something, somewhere in the middle of the ocean."

Guillen got hold of a teenager's surfboard and hung on until lifeguards pulled him to safety.

He laughs about the event now, just as he will when the story is repeated at alumni games or when he crosses paths with teammates later in life.

Brian Bock

The primary starting catcher for the Rainbows, Bock was an ironman last year, starting 51 of 56 games behind the plate, and a rock this year, giving the young pitching staff someone to lean on.

"I have a special place in my heart for catchers because being a pitcher, you rely on those guys to carry you through and you can look at Bocky and see that the job he's done with our young pitchers," Trapasso said. "The fact that our pitching is second in the league and that it's freshmen doing the lion's share of the pitching, I think you have to give a lot of credit to Brian Bock for his leadership."

Bock, who is from Bakersfield, Calif., will graduate next year with a degree in sociology. He hopes a pro career is in his future.

"If I don't make it; it's not the end of the world," said Bock, one of three seniors who was a recruit of Murakami.

Justin Cayetano

The left-handed pitcher who dreamed of being a Rainbow when growing up and playing for Mililani High had the shortest tenure among the eight seniors. He transferred from Washington State after his junior year, only to have to sit out a season while he settled some academic issues. But he made the most of his only season as a Rainbow. He collaborated on UH's first shutout of the season, blanking Sacramento State for eight innings on Feb. 15.

He also contributed in other ways.

"He adds levity to the pitching staff," Trapasso said. "He's always smiling. His jokes and the way he handles himself (kept the team loose)."

Cayetano, who will graduate next spring with a degree in sociology, said he wants to be a high school counselor and baseball coach.

One of the best things he liked about being a Rainbow is the recognition from fans.

"All the little kids, all running, 'Can I have your autograph?,'" he said. "It wasn't like that at Washington. We didn't sign autographs or anything."

Brent Cook

The University of California's loss was a much-welcomed addition in Manoa.

After transferring from the Berkeley campus, Cook became a coach's dream. His versatility allowed Trapasso to play him in all three outfielder positions, as well as at second and third base in the past two years.

"One of my top two or three players I've ever coached," Trapasso said. "He's right up there because of the determination and the drive that the kid has and his willingness to play whatever position and to do whatever it takes to win."

All Cook ever wanted was a chance to play, an opportunity lost at Cal. He hopes a pro team will prolong his career in next month's draft.

"If given the opportunity, I would take it," Cook said. "If it doesn't happen, I'm satisfied with how my career turned out."

Cook, who is from Alamo, Calif., will complete his degree in American Studies in the fall semester at Cal, where he is closer to obtaining his degree because of how credits are counted there than at UH. Also, Cal is closer to home.

Kevin Gilbride

Not to be mistaken for the Buffalo Bills offensive coordinator, who is his father, the reserve outfielder came to baseball by way of football four years ago. He transferred from Brigham Young to play quarterback, but when it appeared his chances of playing were slim, he eventually decided to concentrate of baseball.

Gilbride will graduate with a degree in speech communications next week. Then he will try to find success in football — as a graduate assistant coach. Gilbride said he already has an offer from Division I-AA Duquesne in Pittsburgh, but is pursuing possible opportunities at BYU, Michigan State and Louisiana State. He said he would prefer one of the Division I-A opportunities.

"It's something I've always been interested in and I have been around it," he said of coaching football. "Having been away from the game so long, I realized the part of the game I missed the was the mental aspect. I missed the strategies behind it. (Coaching) is a part of football that will fulfill my need to be around the game."

"He's going to be a good coach one of these days," Trapasso said. "I can't think of anybody I'd rather have my kids play for if they were ever in that kind of situation."

Because of his father's occupation, Gilbride has lived in many places. But he calls North Haven, Conn., his hometown. He is the one who has "Scotland the Brave" (on bagpipes) for his introduction song.

"I'm Irish and have been raised to appreciate my heritage," he said.

Chris George

After clearing some transfer issues from a junior college, George went on to become the team's winningest pitcher last year. At 7-6 with at least two more starts, he is likely to repeat that distinction this season.

The right-hander said beating UCLA in the season opener was nice, "but the highlight was just playing with this group of guys," he said.

"He's been the guy for us the past couple years," Trapasso said. "Every time he takes the mound, you feel you've got a chance to win, if he's got his good stuff. We hope he has a chance to pitch at the next level."

George, who is from Santa Cruz, Calif., has two semesters from graduating with a degree in sociology. But that might change, as he is expected to get picked in next month's draft. He said if that happens, he might consider finishing he degree somewhere near his home, such as at San Jose State.

He said his Hawai'i experience was rewarding.

"It turned out better than I expected," he said. "Maybe not as far as a results stand point. Obviously, I would've wanted to do better than I've done this year. But as far as me getting better as a player, as a person, most definitely (it was rewarding)."

Arthur Guillen

Although he played sparingly — he is backup to his roommate Tim Montgomery — Guillen's highlight wasn't from one particular play.

"Probably getting a chance to play Rice," said Guillen, also a Murakami recruit. "Everyone wants to play the No. 1 team (in the nation)."

Guillen, who is from Porterville, Calif., is a year away from graduating with a degree in sociology. He will return here to complete his degree. He wants to become a corrections officer.

"(He's) one of my favorite guys in the way he's handled this season, knowing last year he might not get a lot of playing time (this season)," Trapasso said. "But he loves the University of Hawai'i and he's going to get his degree in less than year. No matter what his playing situation has been, there's nobody who works harder."

Bryan Lee

After enjoying his most successful season as a closer his sophomore year — the right-hander was 6-2 with six saves and a 2.97 earned run average — Lee was converted to a starter and reverted back to a reliever with mixed results last year. This season, he has pitched sparingly.

"It's a little disappointing," he admitted. "I tried not to let it bother me. I'm fine with it. I can deal with it pretty good."

Lee, another recruit of Murakami, garnered an all-state honors as a utility player — he pitched and played first base — for Mid-Pacific Institute. He will graduate in December with a degree in economics. An avid fisherman — he enjoys deep sea fishing with his father, Johann Lee — he hopes to land a management job at a fishery, he said.

"This group of seniors have been great kids," Trapasso said. "You have a couple of kids who haven't had the innings or at-bats that they would've liked or have gotten in the past, yet they're still out here working hard everyday and enjoying it. And (Lee is) hoping to finish strong."

Julian Russell

A junior college transfer who was among Trapasso's first recruits, Russell has a respectable season, batting .286 in 30 games last year. But this season, he rarely played as the backup to Brian Finegan. As a result, his highlight was just being a Rainbow.

"It was pretty much the whole experience," he said. "Hawai'i itself was a great experience, the people, the Division I baseball. I had a good time."

The native of Quincy, Calif., will return to UH in the fall to complete his degree in English. He is contemplating graduate school to learn sports management.

"He's hadn't had many opportunities this year, yet, he's out here everyday," Trapasso said. "He's working hard, out for early batting practice and works hard on his fielding. You have to give credit to guys who are that way because he's just trying to do whatever he can to win no matter how frustrating it might have been for him."