With Connor Little firmly entrenched as Hawaii’s No. 2 starter, the search for a No. 3 is still ongoing.
The Rainbows (5-7) open the fourth week of the season with only two announced starters for their series against Portland (6-4) that begins tonight at Les Murakami Stadium.
After seven tough games at home and a five-game road trip, UH takes on the Pilots in the first of a 27-game homestand lasting through mid-April.
» Who: Portland (6-4) at Hawaii (5-7)
» When: Today and tomorrow, 6:35 p.m.; Saturday, 3:05 p.m.; Sunday, 1:05 p.m.
» Where: Les Murakami Stadium
» TV: KFVE, Ch. 5 (today and Sunday only)
» Radio: KKEA, 1420-AM
UH: Matt Sisto (0-1, 3.05); Connor Little (1-0, 2.60); TBA; TBA
UP: Chris Johnson (0-0, 8.00); Owen Jones (1-0, 2.76); J.R. Bunda (0-1, 10.50); Kyle Kraus (2-0, 3.26)
Portland, which is coming off a 34-win season and a second-place finish in the West Coast Conference, visits Hawaii to finish a stretch of 10 games in 11 days.
The Pilots have lost four in a row, including consecutive 7-6 games against Brigham Young, after starting the season 6-0.
"This is no different than any series we’ve played," Hawaii coach Mike Trapasso said. "This is a team that finished second in a very good league last year and we’ve got our work cut out for us."
Matt Sisto and Little will start the first two games of the series, but Trapasso said he would make a change at the end of the rotation.
Jesse Moore (0-2, 3.77 ERA) has put together three consecutive solid outings to hold onto his spot, but freshman left-hander Jarrett Arakawa (0-1, 9.00 ERA) threw well enough against Long Beach State to make a case to jump into UH’s starting rotation.
"We’ll make a switch this weekend depending upon what we have to do out of the bullpen, but Jarrett has earned a start and Jesse has thrown well every time out," Trapasso said. "Everybody for the most part has had solid starts each time out, but it’s still a work in progress and nothing is set in stone."
If Arakawa starts on Saturday, it could be an all-‘Iolani showdown. The Pilots are expected to start right-hander J.R. Bunda, who played with Arakawa in high school before graduating a year earlier in 2009.
"That would be really fun competing with each other because we’re really good friends," Arakawa said. "I guess ‘Iolani prepared us both really well and it’d be a pretty cool thing."
Arakawa went five innings in his first start on Monday against the Dirtbags. After giving up three runs in the first two innings, the left-hander settled down and threw three scoreless innings without walking a hitter.
"That first part aside I felt like it went pretty well," Arakawa said. "I just had to find a groove and take things one inning at a time."
Arakawa and Moore aren’t the only two options the Rainbows have to start games. Alex Capaul has struggled in his two starts, but showed the ability to pitch well with four innings of one-hit ball against Texas.
Zach Gallagher, who had two crucial starts down the stretch last year, has a 3.38 ERA in four appearances and newcomer Brent Harrison has been effective, giving up two runs in six innings.
Overall, the Rainbows sport a 3.52 team ERA, trailing only San Jose State and Fresno State in the Western Athletic Conference.
Offensively, the Rainbows have received a major boost from senior Sean Montplaisir, who leads the team with a .405 average.
Montplaisir has locked down the three spot in the order and leads the team with five doubles and a .541 slugging percentage.
"The biggest thing for me has been staying relaxed and letting the ball come to me," said Montplaisir, who started at least 30 games in his first three seasons, but hit higher than .241 just once. "Seeing that this is my last year, it’s definitely the way I’ve wanted to start the season since in years past I’ve tended to start slow."
Junior Zack Swasey is the only other Rainbow hitting over .330 through 12 games. Swasey has a hit in all 11 games he’s played and leads the team with 17 hits, six runs and seven RBIs.