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Punahou graduate Cole Cabrera leaves Cal Poly to play baseball at UH-Manoa

  • COURTESY CAL POLY ATHLETICS
                                Cole Cabrera, a 2017 Punahou School graduate, will sign a scholarship agreement with the Rainbow Warriors. He has one season of NCAA eligibility remaining.

    COURTESY CAL POLY ATHLETICS

    Cole Cabrera, a 2017 Punahou School graduate, will sign a scholarship agreement with the Rainbow Warriors. He has one season of NCAA eligibility remaining.

Homecoming week continues for the University of Hawaii baseball team.

Outfielder Cole Cabrera, who played the past four seasons at Cal Poly, is joining the University of Hawaii baseball team as a graduate transfer.

Cabrera is a 2017 graduate of Punahou School, where he also competed in football, soccer and golf. He said he will sign a scholarship agreement with the Rainbow Warriors. He has one season of NCAA eligibility remaining. Cabrera is expected to compete for the center field position vacated by Adam Fogel’s graduation, or in right field.

The Warriors recently welcomed back outfielder Scotty Scott, who pulled his name from the NCAA transfer portal, and pitcher Cade Halemanu, who is returning for a fourth UH season after failing to reach a contract agreement during last week’s Major League Baseball Draft. Also, infielders Jordan Donahue (Oregon State, Damien Memorial School) and Kyson Donahue (Arizona, Punahou) also are transferring to UH.

“I’m excited and pumped for this next chapter with Coach (Rich) Hill,” Cabrera said of the ’Bows’ newly hired head coach, “and all the boys returning home. It’s a reunion, and I can’t wait.”

As a Punahou senior, Cabrera was Tampa Bay’s 37th-round selection in the 2017 MLB Draft. But Cabrera opted to attend Cal Poly. He earned a bachelor’s degree in June.

“I loved my time at Cal Poly,” Cabrera said. “It was some of the best years of my life. I met my best friends there. Being at San Luis Obispo, there’s nothing like it. It’s a second home to me. I’m super grateful I got my degree and to play four years of baseball there.”

But Cabrera said he wanted to use his final year of college “to grow as an individual, as a ballplayer, somewhere else.” He will pursue a master’s degree in marketing management. He said he looked forward to returning to Hawaii to play under Hill and becoming teammates with several friends.

“Thankfully, Hawaii reached out,” Cabrera said. “Coach Hill got the job, and we started having preliminary conversation. It was a month-long process. It’s been great. Over the weekend, me and my family met up, and we were saying, ‘let’s do it.’ Coach Hill is providing me an opportunity I can’t pass up. I’m really humbled and really honored to be part of his first year, the whole coaching staff’s first year, and be part of whole new great era of Hawaii baseball.”

Cabrera also had conversations with Scott, Andy Archer, Kyson Donahue and Li‘i Pontes, among several. Archer (Georgia Tech) is transferring to UH. Pontes is poised for an expanded pitching role.

“We’ve all had conversations where we said: ‘what would it be like if we all joined forces and played at the Les?’” Cabrera said, referencing Les Murakami Stadium. “We’ve had great conversations. Me and Scotty have been talking back and forth. I can’t wait to roam the outfield with him.”

In 2021, Cabrera hit .261 with four home runs. He was noted for his two walk-off plate appearances in a doubleheader sweep of UH on May 29. He drove in the winning run with a bases-loaded walk in the 5-4 opener, then hit the knockout double to ensure the mercy rule in the 14-4 second game.

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