'Bows do 'OK' in beating Alumni, 6-0
• Photo gallery: Annual UH alumni game
BY Stacy Kaneshiro
Advertiser Staff Writer
Some former players roll out of bed and face live pitching for the first time ... since the last Alumni game, maybe.
Chris Walz, a pitcher who never batted during his University of Hawai'i baseball career, got off a plane and singled for one of five hits by the Alumni in a 6-0 loss to the 2010 Rainbows yesterday.
A Les Murakami Stadium gathering of 493 saw blasts from the past take on a UH team picked to finish third in the Western Athletic Conference by the league's coaches and predicted to finish second by Baseball America.
The 6-foot-7 Walz, who pitched for the Rainbows during the 1989, '90 and '93 seasons and played basketball ('90 to '92), arrived from Washington. D.C., a few days late because of the Mid-Atlantic snowstorms. He pulled a Zach Gallagher pitch on the ground down the left-field line for a single in the eighth, moving Lance Belen, who led off the inning with a single to right, to second.
"Except for Alumni games, I never had an at-bat (at UH)," laughed Walz.
Walz actually might have been in better game shape than his fellow alumni who have been out of the game as long as he has. He plays in men's league in the D.C. area, where he works for AOL. Walz said he and former 'Bows Scott Karl and Greg Nealon were on a team that won a tournament in November.
"I can say I haven't swung the bat in a while, but considering that was November, that wasn't long ago," Walz said.
Alumni games are purely for fun. Fans get to see their old-time favorites and get a peek at newcomers on the varsity.
Junior college transfer David Freitas, a 6-3, 225-pound catcher, hit two doubles. Another JC transfer, right fielder Collin Bennett, tripled, as did freshman third baseman Pi'ikea Kitamura. Freshman center fielder Breland Almadova had a walk and stolen base.
The varsity started the game with one lineup and inserted a new one of all different players from the sixth inning.
Three varsity pitchers combined on the five-hitter. Senior right-hander Nate Klein gave up two hits and a walk with four strikeouts in six innings. Gallagher gave up three hits in two with three strikeouts and Lenny Linsky pitched a perfect ninth with a strikeout.
"Klein was OK. Solid, not great," UH coach Mike Trapasso said. "Definitely got better his last three innings.
"We need to get Gallagher down in the zone."
Klein is scheduled to start Friday's season opener against nationally ranked Oregon State, Trapasso said. The rest of the rotation has yet to be determined.
Trapasso said his team played well defensively and that the overall pitching and hitting were "OK. Nothing great, but we definitely have to get better in all areas."
Still, Alumni games aren't great gauges.
"You want to play hard and you don't want anybody to get hurt," Trapasso said.
It was one of the better turnouts for the Alumni in recent years. Two active pros — left-side infielders Jon Hee (Red Sox) and Vinnie Catricala (Mariners) — were joined by a number of recent former 'Bows. Pitchers like Clary Carlsen and Jared Alexander also played infield positions.
The oldest participant was Belen, who played from 1982 to 1984. His .526 career slugging percentage ranks 10th in school history.
"I just come out to see the boys, the familiar faces." Belen said. "It's a once-a-year thing, just to come out for the atmosphere."
He had one of the Alumni's five hits.
"We need more of the old guys," joked former UH shortstop Eli Christensen, who played in 2006 to 2007.
The Rainbows' next task is a four-game series with Oregon State, ranked as high as 10th (Collegiate Baseball). The series runs Friday through Monday. The Beavers won the College World Series in 2006 and 2007.