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Monday, October 20, 2014         

FURTHER REVIEW


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Rainbows set the table, but just could not score

By Dave Reardon

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At least they made it interesting, sort of. That's about all you can say regarding the University of Hawaii baseball team's 3-0 loss yesterday at the hands of Louisiana Tech and the left arm of its starting pitcher, Mike Jefferson.

The Rainbows got runners on steadily throughout the muggy afternoon at Les Murakami Stadium. But successfully advancing them proved difficult and getting them home impossible — a stark contrast to Saturday night, when UH scored way more than it needed to take a 2-0 series lead.

A problem yesterday was the timing of the hits, since UH knocked eight and LaTech managed just four. But it's like Iron Chef ... you can't win no matter how good your prep work is if you don't plate anything.

When third batter Kolten Wong whacks a triple, you figure there's a good chance a run is involved. Not this time, as the midseason All-American's blast to the gap came with two outs.

When the Rainbows load the bases with one out, that certainly looks promising for the home team. But Jefferson got out of that jam, too.

The leadoff batters in the Hawaii seventh, eighth and ninth innings all singled. But Jefferson and then, in the ninth, reliever Caleb Dudley, made sure none of them reached home.

AS FOR LATECH, it got more than it needed in the first inning. The usually reliable Connor Little couldn't find the zone and the Bulldogs loaded them up with none out on walks and a hit batsman.

"That's what happens when you don't throw strikes from the beginning," UH coach Mike Trapasso said. "And they got the one hit they needed."

And so ends an eight-game winning streak.

What Trapasso and anyone else watching didn't expect was for the Rainbows to be blanked. But Jefferson kept them off balance, and had that little extra when he needed it ... or, that little less. His off-speed stuff was very good.

"When a lefty throws (good) changeups, you win," said Trapasso, who knows that first-hand from his own college career, as well as from observing one of his current pitchers. "Look at Jarrett Arakawa."

Arakawa, the poised freshman, handcuffed the Bulldogs on Saturday, as the Rainbows won for the 300th time in their coach's career.

It was a thorough 10-2 rout on Saturday, and you can admit it: You were thinking sweep. Some of you younger fans had probably even begun to dream of sweeping through the WAC, 24-0. Think of those drives that look so good off the bat only to die in the Kona winds. Too high. No one wins them all in this sport.

YEAH, IT'S A funny game. But the Rainbows weren't laughing yesterday. They weren't crying, either ... that's only in football or basketball, sports where you usually can't come right back the next day and try your luck again.

Sunday college baseball games normally fall into that category, too, since they typically mark the end of a series. But this four-game set concludes today, and UH gets to trot out one of the best fourth starters in the country. I don't know if you can even call Zach Gallagher a fourth starter anymore, considering how consistently effective he's been.

"Momentum goes only so far as the next day's starter." It's one of Trapasso's favorite sayings. You could tell by the way he said it that he likes his chances with Gallagher.

And since Little got his act together and Randy Yard finished strong, the Rainbows bullpen is in good shape for tonight.

Don't get me wrong, the coach wasn't doing cartwheels. "It's a tough one to take, but that's baseball," Trapasso said.

They're all hard to accept, for different reasons. But bounce back today, and it's all good. A 7-1 record after the first two conference series would be a fine place to be.

Hawaii was still a game ahead of Fresno State in the WAC standings after yesterday's action. True, the regular season doesn't mean all that much, and it's way too early for scoreboard watching anyway. But it was something to do on a humid, drowsy Sunday when all the Rainbows could do was make it interesting, sort of.

Reach Star-Advertiser sports columnist Dave Reardon at dreardon@staradvertiser.com, his "Quick Reads" blog at staradvertiser.com and twitter.com/davereardon.






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