Snieder a dual threat on diamond
By Kalani Takase
Advertiser Staff Writer
Despite being more than 4,000 miles from home — and in the midst of a breakout sophomore season at Northwestern — Paul Snieder couldn't help but take notice of Punahou's seventh straight state baseball title two weeks ago.
"That was really impressive," said Snieder, a 2008 Buffanblu alum. "They had a really tough road the past two years, but they were able to pull it off ... it's pretty remarkable."
Snieder has turned his share of heads as well with his play on the diamond for the Wildcats this year. The 6-foot-2, 225-pound Snieder has been a force at the plate — leading Northwestern with a .379 batting average — and on the mound, where he has recorded 11 saves and a 1.73 earned run average.
The Wildcats have put together a 22-29 record and sit in fourth place in the Big Ten Conference with an 11-10 mark going into this weekend's final regular-season series against Michigan State.
"Our season is going pretty good so far," Snieder said. "We lost a lot of games by one run earlier in the season, but we're playing pretty well right now."
Northwestern opened the season with a four-game losing streak and struggled to a 6-18 non-conference record before beginning Big Ten play April 2. The Wildcats lost their first conference series to Ohio State, but took two of three from Penn State, Minnesota, Purdue and Illinois.
"I can't really remember when it was, but there was a point in the season when everybody started hitting," Snieder said. "We put up like 18 hits in a few games ... I guess everyone just got tired of losing."
Snieder has led the way for the Wildcats. He has started 50 of the 51 games this season with team-highs of 74 base-hits, 111 total bases and 15 doubles. He is slugging .561 and has a .455 on-base percentage with six homers, 33 RBIs and 32 runs scored.
"I definitely improved from last year when I hit around .240 and I think it's mostly because I'm seeing the ball a lot better," Snieder said. "I'm picking up off-speed pitches better, that's the main thing. My first year in college, I had a lot of problems with that. The pitchers in college throw off-speed pitches on all kinds of counts and have much better control than high school pitchers."
Snieder has been formidable at the plate, but has come into his own on the mound this year.
He has a 1-2 record with seven runs allowed on 22 hits in 36 1/3 innings. Opponents are batting just .173 against Snieder, who has 34 strikeouts against 11 walks.
"I really enjoy pitching," Snieder said. "Especially when it gets to be the seventh or the eighth inning and we're ahead, I start to look forward to taking the ball."
Snieder said the highlight of the season was playing a doubleheader against Wisconsin-Milwaukee at Miller Park, home of the Milwaukee Brewers.
"We were waiting for the Brewers game (against the Pittsburgh Pirates) to end and I can remember Trevor Hoffman walking right past us, coming out of the bullpen," Snieder said. "It was pretty cool to play where Major Leaguers play."
The Big Ten Tournament is May 26 to 30 in Columbus, Ohio, and Snieder knows his team will have to take it all to earn a regional berth.
"We know where we stand, but we just want to take it one game at a time and hopefully we can keep playing as long as we can," Snieder said.
• Cal State Northridge junior outfielder Ridge Carpenter (Kalani '07 of Honolulu) batted 2 for 3 with a double, RBI, run scored and walk in Friday's 13-5 loss to UC Riverside. The Matadors (23-24, 6-12 Big West) host Long Beach State in a three-game series this weekend.
• Rochester (N.Y.) senior third baseman Blayne Fuke (Mid-Pacific '06 of Kāne'ohe) was selected to the All-Liberty League second team yesterday. Fuke batted .331 with 10 RBIs and 31 runs scored.
• Shoreline Community College (Wash.) sophomore infielder Bryson Nakamura (Pearl City '08) leads the Northwest Athletic Association of Community Colleges with a .436 batting average. Sophomore Isaac Moises (Word of Life '08) is second at .406 and Darren Baccay (Leilehua '08) is seventh at .391. Shoreline finished 17-21 overall and 7-17 in the NWAACC North Division.
• Pacific (Ore.) junior Max Bonk (Hawai'i Prep '07 of Kamuela) finished in a tie for 20th at the NCAA Division III Men's Championships in Hershey, Pa. last week. Bonk shot rounds of 74, 77, 72 and 74 to finish at 10-over-par 297.
• East Carolina senior third baseman Cristen Aona (Punahou '06 of Kapolei) had a triple and scored twice to help the Pirates beat UCF, 3-1, in the Conference USA Tournament final Saturday in Houston. Senior second baseman Charina Sumner (Kamehameha '06 of Kailua) went 1 for 2 and senior left fielder Marina Gusman-Brown (Pearl City '06 of 'Ewa Beach) batted 1 for 3 with a run scored for ECU. The Pirates (42-16) play BYU (43-11) in their NCAA Tournament Regional opener tomorrow. The other teams in the Austin Regional are Iona (28-24) and host Texas (42-13).
• New Mexico State junior first baseman Hoku Nohara (Kamehameha '07 of Waimānalo) hit two home runs, drove in five runs, scored twice and walked twice in a 9-8 loss to San Jose State Thursday in a Western Athletic Conference Tournament game. Freshman outfielder Tehani Ka'aihue (Kapolei '09) recorded a hit and scored a run for the Aggies.
• Metro State (Colo.) senior outfielder Kellie Nishikida (Pearl City '04) hit a two-run homer in the fourth inning of Saturday's 7-1 win over Minnesota State in an NCAA Division II Central Regional game in Colorado Springs, Colo. It was her seventh home run of the season. Nishikida batted 4 for 4 with an RBI and two runs scored in Friday's 10-1 win over Mesa State. The Roadrunners (49-4) went 3-0 to win the regional and will host Wayne State (43-12) in a best-of-three Super Regional Friday and Saturday.
TRACK & FIELD
• Wyoming's Kekoa Chavez (Hilo '05) won the men's 400-meter dash at the Mountain West Conference Championships in 50.74 seconds to earn all-conference honors. He also ran on the sixth-place 4x400 relay team. Teammate Larissa Edwards (Ka'ū '08 of Pahala) finished 17th in the women's 100 hurdles (15.27).
• Abe Markowitz (Punahou '08 of Hawai'i Kai) placed 13th in the men's shot put with a toss of 52 feet, 5 1/2 inches at the Pac-10 Conference Championships.
• Idaho State's Bryce Jenkins (Leilehua '09 of Wahiawā) was ninth in the men's 3,000 steeplechase in 9:40.82 at the Big Sky Conference Championships.
• Trevor Mau (Saint Louis '09 of Kāne'ohe) of Northern State (S.D.) placed fifth in the long jump (22-6 1/4;) and 10th in the triple jump (44-4) at the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference Championships.
• Mikey Lim (Punahou '06 of Honolulu), a senior who plays for Claremont-Mudd-Scripps, helped the Stags beat UC Santa Cruz, 5-3, in an NCAA Tournament third-round match against UC Santa Cruz Thursday. Lim teamed with Russell Brockett to win the third doubles match, 9-7. His No. 2 singles match was abandoned after CMS clinched the win. The Stags (22-5) advanced to the NCAA Division III Elite Eight, which will be played May 25 to 27 in Oberlin, Ohio.
Advertiser Staff Writer Stanley Lee contributed to this report.