Don’t worry too much about all those zeroes next to "RAINBOWS" on the Les Murakami Stadium scoreboard last night.
That will be cured real fast when Hawaii isn’t playing top-10 teams and going up against studs like last night’s opposing pitcher, Taylor Jungmann.
Do, however, take some alarm in the four under the letter "E."
That’s 14 errors in UH’s first five games. A bad throw by the Rainbows’ star second baseman, Kolten Wong, helped Texas to its first and only needed run in its 2-0 win.
That was in the third inning, and shortstop Matt Harrison had already made one error in each of the first two innings. First baseman Jeff Van Doornum dropped a pop-up to start the eighth. Right fielder Collin Bennett nearly dropped an easy flyball, but quickly recovered and caught it with his bare hand.
Some of the errors are by Rainbows at new positions, but when veterans with credentials as good defensive players look shaky, it makes you re-think the maxim that defense is a constant; maybe it’s contagious, like good or bad hitting.
Hawaii was fortunate the Longhorns didn’t parlay the other three errors into runs, or last night’s final math would have looked a lot worse for the home team – as well as its prospects of taking at least one game in the series that continues today.
TEXAS WAS dominant with Jungmann pitching. But the Longhorns are a different type of club than the one that set a school record for homers last year. They’ve yet to hit a roundtripper in six games. They seemed content last night to be patient at the plate, hit the ball on the ground, move runners along and force the defense to make the plays. They beat Hawaii at Hawaii’s game – or, at least, what used to be Hawaii’s game.
The Longhorns are certainly not unbeatable; they lost a game to Maryland (which has had one winning year since 2002) in their season-opening series last week and another to Texas A&M-Corpus Christi.
SOLID DEFENSE has long been a UH cornerstone, and in coach Mike Trapasso’s 10 seasons the Rainbows have often been among the nation’s leaders in fielding percentage. Defense was a source of pride.
You can’t blame the lousy defense on the level of competition. Errors are errors. That’s the part of the game you have complete control over, the part that can level the playing field against opponents loaded with talent.
Speaking of the playing field, the Rainbows have made all these errors in their home park – the place where they’re supposed to be comfortable, where they’re supposed to have the advantage over visitors who are new to the place. Maybe all these lights that are out (and should be fixed, ASAP) have something to do with it. But Oregon and now Texas don’t seem to have problems with that.
It used to be that the early part of the season was to learn who could hit tough pitching. Now, Trapasso needs to find guys who can catch pop ups and make other routine plays. Too many of these Rainbows look like good prospects for the designated hitter spot.
A great effort by starting pitcher Matt Sisto was wasted. Even against a team of Texas’ caliber, Hawaii should be in the game when it allows just one earned run, but you never really got that sense.
Once again, of course, you tip your cap to Jungmann. He was in command the entire way. The Rainbows didn’t even get a runner to second until the eighth inning.
Yes, you can’t win if you don’t score runs.
But even if you do score, you can’t win if you don’t catch the ball.
Reach Dave Reardon at email@example.com.