Hawai'i will take swing at UCSB
By Stacy Kaneshiro
Advertiser Staff Writer
By Stacy Kaneshiro
Hawai'i finds itself on the outside looking in this week as the only Western Athletic Conference team playing a nonconference series against UC Santa Barbara.
The three-game series against the Gauchos (9-10) of the Big West runs tomorrow through Tuesday at Les Murakami Stadium. But just as that series ends, the Rainbows (20-8) resume WAC play against San Jose State on Friday.
The only thing the closeness of the two series might do is scale back the distance the starting pitchers go. There will be four days' rest between starts for the three starting pitchers between series.
"We may shut guys down this series an inning before we normally would," UH coach Mike Trapasso said. "But we'll be all right because four days' rest is pretty much the norm."
While Steven Wright (4-2, 3.14 earned run average) and Ian Harrington (3-1, 3.25) are settled for tomorrow and Monday for UH, Tuesday's starter will be either Justin Costi (3-0, 5.24) or Mark Rodrigues (3-1, 3.31). Trapasso said Costi is mostly likely to start, but it also depends on how the first two games of the series go.
After a rough first two starts as the fourth starter, Costi has been on a roll, winning his past three starts with strong outings, allowing three runs in 16 2/3 innings with 10 strikeouts to three walks. With the recent strong performances of Rodrigues and freshman Matt Daly (3-0, 1.29), Trapasso finds himself with an unheard of luxury in college baseball of having five reliable starting pitchers.
"I have no problem with starting Costi, Rodrigues or Daly," Trapasso said. "The way Costi has been throwing the last three starts, he definitely deserves to start Tuesday."
This series also is a last chance to get at-bats for players and innings for pitchers who usually don't get much playing time or are not on the 25-player conference roster.
The Rainbows managed to beat the rain in a two-game sweep at Hilo. They even got in full practices the past two days with breaks in the weather (at least during the workouts). Now it's a matter of this series avoiding rain. The Rainbows had Sunday's WAC series finale against Louisiana Tech postponed because of rain. That game will be made up when the Rainbows travel to Ruston, La., in May.
The Rainbows' heart of the order continues to pace the offense. Third baseman Justin Frash, first baseman Luis Avila and right fielder Matt Inouye lead the team in RBIs with 27, 23 and 19, respectively. Frash (.380) leads the team with 11 multiple-hit games. He was 5 for 6 in Wednesday's 13-5 win at UH-Hilo. Setting the table for them has been lead-off hitter Robbie Wilder (.330), who has a .496 on-base percentage and a team-leading six stolen bases.
Hawai'i has won six of seven series this season; its only series loss was to LaTech (2-0).
The Gauchos enter the series having won four of their past five. They took 2 of 3 from former WAC member Texas Christian last weekend. The Gauchos travel to UH-Hilo for a four-game series starting Thursday.
Reach Stacy Kaneshiro at firstname.lastname@example.org.