'Bows take on Bulldogs Five Rainbows picked for conference honors
BY Stacy Kaneshiro
Advertiser Staff Writer
Although still not competely healthy, Hawai'i closer Lenny Linsky will resume his role for the Western Athletic Conference tournament today.
The double-elimination tournament will be played at Hohokam Stadium in Mesa, Ariz.
The fourth-seeded Rainbows (29-25) open against fifth-seeded Louisiana Tech (27-28) at 1 p.m. HST. The game will be broadcast on ESPN 1420 AM.
Also today, third-seeded Nevada plays sixth-seeded San Jose State. Top seed Fresno State and second seed New Mexico State draw opening-round byes.
The tournament champion gets the league's automatic regional berth. Because every WAC team's Ratings Percentage Index is 75 or higher, the league is not expected to get an at-large berth.
The right-handed Linsky bruised his pitching hand after being struck by a line drive in Saturday's game at San Jose State. He managed to retire the next three batters to record his 11th save.
"He's much better today than he was yesterday," UH coach Mike Trapasso said after yesterday's workout. "It's still swollen. Hopefully, he'll be better tomorrow than he was today. It's kind of a day-to-day thing. If he was forced into pitching today, he could have. But he's not a hundred percent."
Still, Linsky will pitch if called upon.
"Nobody's taking his place," Trapasso said. "He's going to go out and pitch if not at a hundred percent. I'll still take Linsky at 80 percent than a lot of people."
Joining the team yesterday was senior outfielder Christian Johnson, who has been out since injuring his right shoulder April 16 at Sacramento State while attempting a diving catch of a foul fly. But Trapasso said Johnson is not ready to play yet.
"He'll be on the roster, but maybe each day, (the shoulder) will loosen up," Trapasso said. "But he's nowhere close to being ready. He's got no bat speed."
Josh Slaats will start on the mound for the Rainbows, who split their regular season meeting with Louisiana Tech. Slaats pitched a five-hitter to beat the host Bulldogs, 10-0, on April 22 in a game shortened to seven innings by the 10-run rule. The performance earned Slaats his fourth WAC Pitcher of the Week award.
Slaats is coming off a 5-3 win against San Jose State in which he pitched five innings. In his previous two WAC starts, he went 2 1/3 against New Mexico State and two against Nevada.
Still, Baseball America has Slaats ranked 78th in its top 200 draft list. That would put him in the late second round after accounting for sandwich picks.
The Bulldogs are led by outfielder Devon Dageford, who has a team-best .382 batting average and 17 home runs. Third baseman Mark Threlkeld leads the team with 62 RBIs.
Catcher Clint Ewing (.349, 10 HR) was named to ESPN The Magazine's Academic All-America third team. The civil engineering major has a 4.0 grade point average, according to the school's website.