At first glance, Sacramento State has been a pain in Hawaii’s side.
Fortunately, the Rainbow baseball team’s Western Athletic Conference opener is at home instead of on the road.
The Hornets, who have missed the WAC tournament in consecutive years, are 9-7 the past three seasons against Hawaii. The two teams kick off the conference season tonight at Les Murakami Stadium, where UH is 6-2 against Sac State during that span.
The Rainbows are 1-7 at Hornet Field.
"It would have to be that we have 4,000 fans here pulling for us," said junior Matt Sisto, who will get the start tonight. "You go on the road, it’s different out there. At home you’re in that comfort zone."
The Rainbows found that zone last week against Wichita State, taking three of four against the Shockers.
UH scored 34 runs, the most it’s had in a four-game series since last April.
"We’re hoping to build off the momentum of last series and continue to do well," said senior Jeff Van Doornum, who had a hit in every game and scored three runs.
Van Doornum started every game in the outfield after opening the season as the team’s starting first baseman.
Western Athletic Conference
>> Sacramento State: Dallas Chadwick (2-2, 3.12); Karl Maas (2-2, 3.62); Brandon Sandoval (0-1, 3.92); TBA
He made two diving catches and threw out a runner at the plate in the final two games of a series that saw Hawaii score a season-high 12 runs twice.
"I’ve always wanted to play in the field, I mean, everyone wants to play all the time," said Van Doornum, who also has started six games at designated hitter. "Outfield is my No. 1 position I’ve played in the past, but I’m just happy to be on the field and will play wherever coach tells me."
The Rainbows are approaching a couple of milestone victories. One more win will give the program 1,400 victories overall, and Mike Trapasso is six away from winning his 300th game at UH.
The Hornets are in their first season under Reggie Christiansen, who took over the job at the end of last season. Christiansen replaced longtime coach John Smith, who retired after 32 years.
The Hornets have struggled offensively, hitting .218 going into league play. They try to make up for it with a pitching staff that has given up three runs or fewer in 14 of 29 games.
"Every time I see a score from them this year it’s always been a low-scoring game," Trapasso said. "We’re going to have to pitch well."
Junior Kolten Wong has been named to the Baseball America midseason All-America team as a second baseman. He has hit .393 with four home runs, 24 RBIs and 10 stolen bases while also playing catcher and shortstop.
He hit .500 with a home run and nine RBIs against Wichita State.