POSTED: 1:30 a.m. HST, Mar 28, 2011
LAST UPDATED: 2:55 p.m. HST, Mar 29, 2011
Somebody brushed off the old "Who's on First?" routine and it blared through the Les Murakami Stadium speakers.
It was appropriate, since there have been times this season when Abbott and Costello could've been mistaken for the University of Hawaii double play combination, and coach Mike Trapasso has had to continually juggle his lineup as we approach the midway point of the schedule and the start of WAC play.
It's been like a Jenga game, with the removal of one critical piece causing the entire thing to topple.
That, however, is not why UH lost four games to Cal State Fullerton over the weekend. The reasons for that would be the quality of play by the Titans especially two guys named Ramirez, Noe and Nick and a lack of clutch hitting on the part of the Rainbows.
Hawaii didn't kick these games away, so that's progress from the beginning of the season.
The Titans won the four games by a combined eight runs. UH was in it to the end in all of them, but failed to deliver the key hits.
Roughly two out of three times you don't hit your flush after the flop. Roughly two out of three times you don't get your two-out game-tying single. When things aren't going well, the odds are much worse than that in both endeavors.
"We're pitching our tails off," Trapasso said. "That makes every run meaningful and every mistake magnified tenfold. All you can do is keep playing; the tide will turn."
FULLERTON WAS MISSING eight suspended players, but this elite program is ultra deep. And UH didn't have Kolten Wong's bat for two games and shortstop/pitcher Jesse Moore for three.
When transfer pitcher Jake Floethe came in to close for the Titans yesterday, the Fresno Formula came to mind. Maybe you recall a few years ago when Floethe was a freshman for the Bulldogs; they basically used all their games leading up to the WAC and then half of the conference season as spring training. Then they got hot and won the College World Series.
Not that any team wants to or can do things that way. The Rainbows aren't likely on the road to Omaha, but they're not on the way to missing the WAC tournament, either. Their pitching depth means they'll be in every game once conference play begins next week against Sacramento State.
Wichita State this week? The Rainbows need Moore and Wong back in the lineup and on the field.
YOU WANT a set lineup, but sometimes you don't have a choice. When UH lost catcher David Peterson to his nursing of a lingering injury, it created a ripple effect in the batting order and the defensive alignment as Pi‘ikea Kitamura and Wong were forced behind the plate more than Trapasso would've preferred.
But now that Garrett Champion has emerged and been playing pretty close to the level of his surname, that problem seemed to be solved. That is, until Wong and Moore both hurt their shoulders. When they're back at full speed to both play up the middle, all the pieces will be in place.
A couple of other key players have broken through, and although you wouldn't say they feasted on Fullerton pitching, they did manage a few healthy bites.
Center fielder and leadoff man Breland Almadova ripped a double into left yesterday to key UH's only productive rally. He also made some more nifty catches.
When told that dropping four, but all close ones, to Fullerton is a double-edged sword, Trapasso said, "Right now I just feel the sharp end."
At least he knows "Who's on First?" It's Michael Blake, a steady left-handed hitter who is solid in the field, too. And he throws gas when called to the mound.
Trapasso believes this team will eventually hit with men on base. The WAC pitching isn't anything close to Texas, Oregon or Fullerton, so it probably will.
Either way, the UH pitching staff deserves some support.
Reach Star-Advertiser sports columnist Dave Reardon at firstname.lastname@example.org, his "Quick Reads" blog at staradvertiser.com and twitter.com/davereardon.