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Miscues on the basepaths prove costly for Rainbows

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In the early going Sunday, I thought the University of Hawaii baseball team had found another way to lose. But in the final analysis, it wasn’t just the poor baserunning that did in the Rainbows in their 10-5 defeat. It was also running out of pitching.

The linescore is really all you need to see to figure that one out. UH was hanging in there against Cal State Northridge through the middle innings, scratching out a run here and there, Corey MacDonald trying to tough it out on the mound for as long as possible.

The visitors led 5-4 after seven, and UH appeared to have a decent chance at salvaging the final game of the series heading into this week’s three-game set with Big West kingpin Cal State Fullerton.

And then the bottom fell out, the Matadors putting up five runs in the final two innings. The reality is Hawaii just doesn’t have enough pitching to go toe-to-toe with the top half of the conference for a series — even though these are just three-game hookups.

Things might be somewhat different if frontline hurlers Jarrett Arakawa, Andrew Jones and Quintin Torres-Costa were not injured. But they are, and UH is 8-27, 3-9 in the Big West.

Amid all this, coach Mike Trapasso said the Rainbows have actually made progress at the plate. That’s hard to argue with, since they produced nine hits in Saturday’s loss and 12 on Sunday.

And that’s where the bad baserunning comes in. Part of the reason those dozen hits produced just five runs was a couple of costly outs on the paths.

There was an attempted steal of third in the first inning by speedy Stephen Ventimilia, and in the third he tried to take third again unsuccessfully on Pi‘ikea Kitamura’s bunt single.

The Rainbows are trying to be aggressive on the bases by design, Trapasso said.

The caught stealing at third — especially since Ventimilia had a good jump, and there was one out — can be seen as part of the cost of doing business for that strategy. The other was far less acceptable.

"To go on that bunt play, you’ve got to be 100 percent sure," Trapasso said. "It wasn’t the game, but it was a big blow."

Then, in the fourth, Marc Flores was caught trying to take second on a ball that didn’t get far enough away from Matadors catcher Alexis Mercado.

"Other days I get those bases and we get more runs," Ventimilia said. "We’ve tried pretty much everything. First it’s a matter of the hitting not being there. Then the pitching’s not as stellar as it’s been."

Ventimilia — who went 3-for-5 with two RBIs on Sunday — is one of UH’s most exciting players, and you can’t completely harness him and change his style.

"If we’re going to make mistakes, I want them to be aggressive mistakes," Trapasso said.

I get the idea of trying to make things happen, especially when a team is struggling. But with the meat of the order coming up, there’s also a strong case for letting your sticks make things happen. Cleanup batter Conner George and Flores in the fifth spot combined to go 4-for-7, but with no RBIs.

The Rainbows could have had some big innings in the first and third and posted some of those elusive crooked numbers. Maybe even taken a lead.

Then, could the depleted bullpen have held on to beat Northridge, with a staff deep enough to use five relief pitchers in crunch time Sunday — a luxury from which UH is light-years away?

Reach Dave Reardon at or 529-4783.

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