Hawaii baseball team opens busy stretch against North Dakota State

The Hawaii baseball team displayed art and science in a two-game sweep of UH-Hilo the past weekend.

Now the Rainbow Warriors will be quizzed in physical education the next couple of weeks.

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Beginning with Friday’s series opener against North Dakota State, the ‘Bows play eight games in 10 days.

“It was good to get two wins, especially in close games, but now it’s four-game series,” said UH coach Mike Trapasso, referencing the NDSU series that runs through Monday and the four-game series against Washington State that begins two days later. “That’s a lot of games over a short period of time.”

In 5-4 and 6-4 victories over Hilo, the ’Bows followed what Trapasso termed the “anatomy of what it takes to win close games.” The ’Bows walked two in 18 innings, did not commit an error in either game, and successfully executed small-ball tactics of bunts, steals, and hit-and-run tactics.

“We focused on what we wanted to do,” Trapasso said. “The fact we were able to play a couple close games and come out on top was a plus for us.”

Last season, the ‘Bows were 9-20 in games decided by three runs or fewer, and 6-13 when the margin was no more than two runs.

“Just to have one-run and two-run games, and to win those, hopefully that will have some carryover, ” Trapasso said. “It was the first weekend, and crazy things happen the first weekend. But we did go out and do some things that aren’t really easy to do. We threw strikes. We played flawless defense. Our offensive execution was very good. The bunting game was big for us. We need to get better. But find me a team that doesn’t need to get better after the first weekend in certain areas. We’ll be tested this weekend.”

The ’Bows will keep the front side of the pitching rotation intact. Logan Pouelsen, a right-handed senior, will start on Friday. Aaron Davenport, a right-handed sophomore, will open on Saturday. Cade Smith will pitch on Sunday. “And then we’re going TBA for Monday,” Trapasso said.

“We’ve got some options. We’ll do everything we can to win the first three. We’ll take a look after Sunday’s game and see who’s left standing or who hasn’t pitched yet and figure it out then.”

As relievers or as Monday’s starter, Cade Halemanu, Tai Atkins, Buddie Pindel, Li ‘i Pontes and Carter Loewen are expected to pitch this series.

Smith, a right-handed junior, earned the Game 3 start after pitching well last Saturday. Smith threw strikes on 84.3 % of his pitches.

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“Cade has all the tools,” Trapasso said. “When he throws strikes like he did, he’ll give you a chance to win because his tools are as good as anyone we have. He started a lot of games for us last year, so he’s earned the right to get this opportunity in this four-game series.”

The ’Bows also have found early success from the bullpen. Jeremy Wu — Yelland, whose fastball has touched 97 mph, threw three scoreless innings against Hilo. Vince Reilly retired the six batters he faced, needing only six pitches in each of his two innings.

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