Sitting at third in the league standings, the University of Hawai’i baseball team (21-15, 7-4 BWC) faces a pivotal Big West weekend back at home in Les Murakami Stadium, hosting CSUN (17-23, 5-7 BWC) in a three-game set Friday-Sunday.
The Rainbow Warriors are coming off a challenging road stretch which included the first UH Big West series loss at perennial postseason contender Cal State Fullerton. While the ‘Bows made a huge extra-innings comeback to even the series, the Titans took the series on a Sunday shutout.
Junior catcher Kekai Rios has had the hot hand since the ‘Bows entered Big West play, leading the team with a .467 average against league opponents, logging six RBI and seven runs, riding a .545 on-base percentage. On the season, Rios paces the team with a .343 average with 13 RBI and 16 runs.
Leadoff hitter and junior shortstop Maaki Yamazaki remains steady for UH, batting .313 with a team-high 23 runs. Yamazaki has collected a base hit in 12 of the last 14 games, including seven of his 14 multi-hit outings. After starting the season red hot, sophomore right fielder Adam Fogel has seen recent struggles at the plate, but has registered a team-leading 24 RBI with with the nation’s 43-most doubles (14) on .287 hitting.
After resetting the UH career sac bunts record to 43 on the road swing, senior left fielder Johnny Weeks leads the nation and requires just three more to overtake Michael Dartt’s (1999) season record as well.
Led by junior right-hander Jackson Rees’ Big West sixth-best 2.72, the Rainbow Warriors hold a team ERA at 3.74 for the third-best mark in the conference. Dylan Thomas remains one of the nation’s best closers with a 1.16 ERA, a 2-1 record and an NCAA 10th-best 10 saves – he’s allowed no earned runs in the last 10 appearances, including all Big West games.
After taking a home sweep at the hands of league-leading UC Irvine over the weekend, the Matadors are on a six-game slide. However, CSUN has proven to be solid hitters this year, batting .281 with an average of 9.8 hits and 6.3 runs per game.
One of the best extra base hitters in the conference, left fielder Albee Weiss is hitting .290 with the nation’s fourth-most home runs (15), leading the Big West with the NCAA’s 20th-most 47 RBI and scoring 27 times himself. Catcher Trevor Casanova leads the Matadors and the conference with a .372 average, logging 31 runs and 25 RBI – the only hitter in the BWC with more doubles than Fogel (15)
On the mound, CSUN holds a team ERA at 4.72, allowing an average of 9.9 hits and 5.5 runs per outing. The Matadors have mixed their starting rotation throughout the year, but right-hander Walker Armstrong, left-hander Isaiah Nunez and righ-hander Matt Acosta making all the starts in Big West games. Walker is 1-3 with a 3.75 ERA, team-high 45 strikeouts and 14 walks. Nunez is 1-0 with a 3.27 and 33 strikeouts to eight walks. Acosta is 4-5 with a 4.67 ERA and 30 strikeouts.
Meeting for the 49th time to open the series on Friday, the Matadors lead the Rainbow Warriors in the series 30-18, first meeting in 1981. Hawaii is 13-15 against CSUN at home overall and 2-4 at LMS since joining the Big West.
Directly preceding Saturday’s baseball game, the Hawai’i football team will be hosting its annual spring game right next door at the Clarence T.C. Ching Athletics Complex. Fans are encouraged to spend the day with Hawai’i Athletics, checking out the spring game festivities and then heading over to Les Murakami Stadium to watch the Rainbow Warriors take on CSUN on the diamond.
After meeting the Matadors, UH will finish off a six-game homestand next week against Cal Poly, May 4-6. The final homestretch follows on Senior Weekend against Long Beach State, May 18-20.
University of Hawai’i Games 37-39
What: Hawai’i Rainbow Warriors (21-15, 7-5 BWC) vs. CSUN Matadors (17-23, 5-7 BWC)
When: Friday, April 27, 6:35 p.m. HT
Saturday, April 28, 6:35 p.m. HT
Sunday, April 29, 1:05 p.m. HT
Where: Honolulu, O’ahu (Les Murakami Stadium)
Television: The first two games of the series will be televised on Spectrum Sports.
Live Streaming: Televised games will appear on BigWest.tv.
Radio: All games will be broadcast live on the radio on ESPN Honolulu 1420 AM with Jim Leahey and Scott Robbs. Neighbor islands can listen live on KNUI on Maui, KHLO in Hilo, KKON in Kona and KTOH on Kaua’i.
Audio Webcast: www.ESPN1420am.com
Live Stats: Live in-game stats will be provided by Hawai’i Athletics throughout the series at the links listed below.
|Game 1||Game 2||Game 3|
Promotions: Bank of Hawaii is the series sponsor and will distribute 100 thermo snack bags each day. Visit the Bank of Hawaii table on Friday and play the “Plinko Game” to win FREE prizes. Friday (April 27) contest will be followed by an autograph session on the field. Saturday (April 28) Little League teams or groups that have purchased a group rate ticket package are invited onto the field to stand alongside the UH baseball players for the National Anthem & Hawaii Pono’i prior to Saturday’s game (Check-in 30 min. prior to first pitch on Saturday near the Big West Conference logo on the ground level). Sunday Funday (April 29): Ticket Package 1 – $25 for family of four (two adults and two youth); Ticket Package 2 – $40 (four adults). Each ticket package includes four (4) upper level tickets, four (4) hot dogs, and four (4) bottle soda/water (while supplies last). Tickets can be purchased online, calling 944-2697 (option 2), walking up to the Les Murakami Stadium on game day or in advance at the Stan Sheriff Center Box Office.