By any name, The Citadel a formidable foe for UH
BY Stacy Kaneshiro
Advertiser Staff Writer
The Citadel baseball program might not have the name recognition as other Hawai'i opponents such as Oregon State, Southern California or Cal State Fullerton. But it is far from being a no-name team.
The Rainbows (4-4) open a four-game series against the Bulldogs (5-1) starting 6:35 tonight at Les Murakami Stadium.
"If we take them lightly just because we don't recognize their name, we'll get thumped," UH coach Mike Trapasso said. "I guarantee you."
The Citadel has had only one losing season in coach Fred Jordan's 19-year tenure. The Bulldogs have made six regional appearances in the last 13 seasons. They were picked to finish third in the Southern Conference by the conference's coaches.
Hawai'i is coming off taking 3 of 4 from Oregon, while The Citadel went 3-0 at its own Charleston Crab House Shootout. The Bulldogs are off to their best start in 20 seasons. They were 27-1 to begin the 1990 season, when they made their only College World Series appearance.
"They return everybody from what I've been told was a very outstanding team last year," Trapasso said. "Their No. 1 pitcher is legit high draft."
Tomorrow's first-game starter, right-hander Asher Wojciechowski (2-0, 3.00 ERA), pitched on the U.S. National team and was a teammate of UH second baseman Kolten Wong. The 6-foot-4, 235-pound Wojciechowski is ranked 71st in Baseball America's top 100 college prospects in this year's draft.
Tomorrow's second-game starter, 6-6, 225-pound left-hander Matt Talley (1-0, 4.63), was second on the team with wins last season at 8-1 from just 18 appearances, 10 as a starter.
The Bulldogs' closer, left-hander Drew Mahaffey, has three saves in as many appearances in 2[0xb0] innings.
Offensively, The Citadel brings a .315 team batting average. The Bulldogs hit five of their eight home runs in their last game, a 15-4 rout of Radford.
"They'll bring an energy and a toughness we may not see all year," Trapasso said. "We're by no means anywhere close to where we're able to go out there and beat anybody. This team is capable of being as good as the first two teams we've played."
Hawai'i pitched and fielded well against Oregon. The Rainbows enter this series with a 3.34 ERA and a .969 fielding percentage. Of UH's 10 errors, four were committed by pitchers.
Right fielder Collin Bennett is swinging the hot bat at .433. He raised his average 100 points since the previous series against Oregon State.
The Citadel, located in Charleston, S.C., has an undergraduate enrollment of about 2,000 who reside on campus and study under a military system. About one third of its graduating classes accept military commissions, according to the school's Web site.