'Bows hope to make stand against Aggies
BY Stacy Kaneshiro
Advertiser Staff Writer
New Mexico State returns to the scene tonight where there aren't too many happy memories.
The Aggies are here to close out Hawai'i's final homestand of the season with a four-game Western Athletic Conference baseball series.
The Rainbows (23-22 overall, 6-10 WAC) were off last weekend and still moved out of the conference cellar, while the Aggies (35-16-1, 13-6-1) were swept in a four-game series at home by nemesis Fresno State, which moved past NMSU by percentage points atop the standings.
The last time the Aggies were here was for the WAC tournament last season. In the unbeaten bracket on the final day, NMSU needed to beat FSU once. The Bulldogs swept two in the double-elimination tournament for their fourth consecutive conference crown.
"I think it's less about New Mexico State and more about Fresno," UH coach Mike Trapasso said. "That's quite a feat to be able to do that (sweep) at New Mexico State. But New Mexico State is an outstanding club. They're leading the nation in almost every major offensive category."
The Aggies have an astounding .360 team batting average and average a staggering 10.9 runs per game. They have 100 home runs or nearly two per game in part due to playing in a hitter-friendly park. But they are a selective-hitting team, having drawn 346 walks. And when they do steal, they're pretty good at it with 22 in 27 attempts.
The series format is changed. After tomorrow's doubleheader, the teams are off Saturday because UH is holding commencement ceremonies.
"I never had that in 22 years of coaching," Trapasso said. "I've never had a (scheduled) day off in the middle of a series.
"It makes everything a bit choppy, but honestly, it's (the day off) is for the right reason."
The day off will give relief pitchers a day of rest.
"That's something that could definitely come into play," Trapasso said.
The Rainbows have a set rotation for the series. Josh Slaats starts tonight's 6:35 opener. Sam Spangler starts tomorrow's first game of the doubleheader at 3:35 p.m. Matt Sisto will start the seven-inning second game, and Connor Little will start Sunday's series finale at 1:05 p.m.
The seven seniors — pitchers Nate Klein and Harrison Kuroda, outfielders Christian Johnson and Matt Roquemore, infielders Josh Chevalier and Kevin Macdonald and catcher Kevin Fujii — will be honored after Sunday's game.