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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Monday, April 17, 2006

Rainbows' game at Nevada snowed out

By Stacy Kaneshiro
Advertiser Staff Writer

Trapasso

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For the third time this season, the University of Hawai'i baseball team had its game canceled by inclement weather.

But unlike the previous two that were washed out by rain, yesterday's Western Athletic Conference series finale at Nevada was called off because of snow.

Because UH was scheduled to leave for Sacramento, Calif., last night to catch a morning flight to Honolulu today, and the fact that Nevada does not visit here this season, the game cannot be made up. It is the second cancelation on this road trip that started April 5. A nonconference game at California was called because of rain Tuesday. A home game against UC Santa Barbara on March 28 was wiped out also because of rain.

"It's still snowing," UH coach Mike Trapasso said about an hour after the 10 a.m., Hawai'i time scheduled start yesterday. "It's like a blizzard outside. It's nuts."

This is the seventh time this season a UH game has been affected by weather. Three postponements were made up with doubleheaders at UH. A home WAC game with Louisiana Tech was rained out March 19 and will be made up when the Rainbows visit Ruston, La., next month.

Hawai'i (27-11 overall, 5-5 WAC) is tied for fourth in the conference with Sacramento State (17-22, 6-6), both 2 1/2 games back of first-place Louisiana Tech (24-13, 8-3).

The lost conference game only becomes critical if UH is fighting to stay out of last place in the seven-team WAC; the top six qualify for the postseason tournament that determines the conference champion and automatic regional berth. Otherwise, the teams are playing the regular season for seeding for the double-elimination WAC tournament. The Rainbows will be home this weekend for a three-game series with last-place New Mexico State (1-8) starting Friday.

The lost games mean fewer opportunities for more wins. If UH does not win the WAC tournament, it could get an at-large berth to a regional, providing the selection committee is convinced UH's record and strength of schedule is deserving of a berth for the 64-team field.

"We'll just have to wait and see, keep winning and go from there," Trapasso said. "But it's not good, obviously, to lose games when the more wins you can get if you don't win the tournament you can have an at-large. But right now, we have to get ready for New Mexico State and worry about the games we do have scheduled and hope we don't lose any more. It's a tough deal, but we can't control the weather."

Trapasso said there is no "magic number" of wins that determines whether a team gets an at-large berth, which goes to teams that do not win their league championships. The Southeastern Conference and Atlantic Coast Conference both 12-team conferences could each get up to eight at-large bids because of the strength of their Ratings Percentage Index, according to Baseball America's midseason update. The update, which came out online April 5, showed only Fresno State, the projected WAC champion then, getting the conference's only berth. Louisiana Tech has since swept FSU to take over first place. Fresno State was ranked 23rd by Collegiate Baseball before this week's rankings were released this morning.

As for the lost games, Trapasso doesn't feel they will affect the players at this juncture of the season. He said he planned to start freshman Landon Hernandez at catcher yesterday for senior Esteban Lopez, who caught the only two games of the Nevada series. Also, pitcher Ian Harrington lost a start.

"I feel bad for (Landon) because he doesn't get the at-bats that he would've gotten," Trapasso said. "Outside of that, I don't worry about Harrington or any of our pitching."

The Rainbows finished 3-2, opening the trip losing 2 of 3 to Fresno State. The trips to FSU and Nevada have been historically tough on UH over the years. Hawai'i is 4-13 at Nevada, and 10-29 at FSU.

"Going into it, if you told me we would be .500, going 3-3, I probably wouldn't be happy, but I wouldn't be disappointed, especially looking at going to the two toughest places for us to play historically on the road," Trapasso said. "Obviously, we feel good about the way we played here in Nevada and hope to build on that."

Reach Stacy Kaneshiro at skaneshiro@honoluluadvertiser.com.