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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Linsky now has batters scared

BY Stacy Kaneshiro
Advertiser Staff Writer

Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

Hawai'i closer Lenny Linsky earned three saves this past weekend against then-No. 25 Oregon.

NORMAN SHAPIRO | The Honolulu Advertiser

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Position: Right-handed pitcher (closer)

Year: Sophomore

Dimensions: 6 feet 2, 205 pounds

Hometown: Palos Verdes, Calif.

Of note: Named Western Athletic Conference Pitcher of the Week after recording three saves in as many games.

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Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

Lenny Linsky

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Saturday's tsunami warning was nothing compared to what Lenny Linsky experienced over the summer.

The Rainbows' closer found himself hunkered down with his Waterloo (Iowa) Bucks teammates in the stadium restroom, taking cover from a tornado.

"It was forming above our field, so we had to go into the bathroom," said Linsky, a native of Southern California. "That was scary. Way scarier than the tsunami warning. Southern California has no tornadoes, Hawai'i has no tornadoes. I get to the field, there's wind swirling around everywhere. It was really, really scary."

The only other thing scarier might have been Linsky's pitching last season. As a freshman, he was 1-1 with an 8.47 earned run average. He struck out 15 in 17 innings, which is good. But he walked 14 and hit four batters.

Linsky spent the summer in Iowa to pitch in the Northwoods League. He was 0-6 with a 5.03 ERA, striking out 31, but walking 38 in 53 2/3 innings.

Hawai'i coach Mike Trapasso said he knew he had to make an adjustment, so when the 6-foot-2, 205-pound right-hander showed up for school in the fall, Trapasso was ready for his project.

"I decided that I was going to drop him down, honestly, right after the season," Trapasso said. "He went away to summer ball and I didn't want him doing it on his own, so I told him I had some ideas when he comes back in the fall."

What Trapasso did was change Linsky's pitching motion from over-the-top to three-quarters.

"The first couple weeks, I was almost like sidearm and then I was over-the-top again," Linsky said of the adjustment. "It was hard to find that sweet spot."

But when he found it, the Rainbows had themselves a completely different pitcher. Instead of being wild, Linsky developed command. But the big surprise was that he increased his velocity.

"We did it because we thought it would get him in the zone more," Trapasso said. "What we didn't count on was the rise in velocity that it created. We knew it would give him a little more movement, but it turned him into a power-sinker guy.

"With Lenny, the key now is throwing strike one. If he can throw strike one, he'll be very effective like you saw this weekend."

Linsky has yet to give up a run in five appearances totaling six innings. This past weekend against then-No. 25 Oregon, he posted three saves in all of UH's wins in the four-game series. That helped earn Linsky Western Athletic Conference Pitcher of the Week honors. He already is one save shy of tying last season's team high, shared by Sam Spangler and Josh Slaats, who are both starters this season.

"I've always been like, the wild pitcher," Linsky said. "But Coach Trap helped me out and my command's a lot better."

Note: UH coach Mike Trapasso said he will continue with the same starting rotation against The Citadel (5-1). Nate Klein will start tomorrow, Matt Sisto in Friday's first game of the doubleheader and Josh Slaats in the scheduled seven-inning nightcap. Sam Spangler will start Saturday's series finale.