UH tries to catch second wind
By Stacy Kaneshiro
Advertiser Staff Writer
Looking for a stronger run in the second half of the Western Athletic Conference baseball season, Hawai'i begins its quest to get out of the league's cellar against Nevada starting tonight.
The Rainbows (21-20 overall, 4-8 WAC) are in last place in the seven-team WAC with 12 games to go. Eight of those are at home. After a bye next weekend, they play New Mexico State May 13 to 16.
Hawai'i is coming off a 4-5 road trip, which it went 3-5 against WAC opponents. But after UH's last two games at Louisiana Tech, including a wild 14-13 win, Rainbows' coach Mike Trapasso is feeling optimistic about a better second half.
"I like the toughness and energy that we have," Trapasso said. "Now we have to combine that with execution and performance."
Injuries to starting pitchers Nate Klein and Matt Sisto caused some uncertainty during the first half of the WAC schedule. Both are now healthy and at least Klein is back in the rotation.
Josh Slaats (4-2), a four-time WAC Pitcher of the Week winner and a Pitcher of the Year candidate, starts tonight's game. His 1.71 earned run average ranks seventh in the nation among pitchers who average at least an inning pitched per team games played.
Sam Spangler (2-6, 4.38) might not have the record to show for it, but is pitching well. He will start tomorrow's first game, with Klein (1-1, 7.36) taking the mound in the seven-inning nightcap.
Sunday's starting pitcher has yet to be determined.
Nevada (22-15-1, 3-4-1) is coming off a series split against Fresno State. The Wolf Pack's two wins were each by at least 10 runs. One was by the 10-run differential run rule and the other was a seven-inning second game of a doubleheader.
Back for Nevada is senior first baseman Shaun Kort, who has seemingly been around the league forever. He's still a dangerous hitter, batting .381 with six homers and 42 RBIs.
Two-way threat Brock Stassi also is back. He leads the team with a .392 batting average with seven homers and 31 RBIs. Stassi also is 5-4 with a 3.62 ERA, and is scheduled to start Sunday's game.
Left fielder Brian Barnett is batting .354 with a team-leading 10 homers and 46 RBIs.