Off to the program’s best 18 game start since 2012 the University of Hawaii baseball team closes out their non conference home schedule with a four game series against Seton Hall (7-91) starting Friday.
As a squad, the Rainbow Warriors did carry high expectations for the early season slate, but at 12-6 and ranked 39th in the Ratings Percentage Index and tops in the ultra competitive Big West Conference, expectations have been exceeded.
The same can be said with Maaki Yamazaki at shortstop.
Having rode the hype train 6,200-miles from Tokyo, Yamazaki who heading into the season was profiled as a take what you can get offensive player that will be a wizard on defense has produced in all phases for the ‘Bows.
Prior to going 1-for-14 in the final three games against Illinois State, Yamazaki was hitting .327 on the season through 15 games.
Currently he’s at a clip of .270 with five extra base hits, seven runs batted in, having struck out just three times in 63 at bats.
Not too shabby for a kid that recruited himself as a walk-on to the Rainbow Warrior program.
“I was actually on the road recruiting and (former) coach Rusty MacNamara called me and said that a skinny Japanese kid from Tokyo walked into our office and introduced himself. He said he has some skills and was interested in walking on. So, we’d like to call ourselves super recruiters and went to Tokyo and wined and dined them, but sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good” head coach Mike Trapasso told KHON2’s Sam Spangler.
Yamazaki, who is known around the program as one of the most beloved members of the UH team says that the feeling is very much mutual.
“At first I was really nervous because I didn’t have any American friends but getting to talk with them a lot they were really nice and they’re all funny guys so I’m so happy that I did meet them” said Yamazaki.
“He’s great man. He’s an amazing person. It’s kind of refreshing to have a guy like that. He’s always smiling. Always joking around and having fun. It keeps the team loose. It keeps me loose, so it helps” said senior designated hitter Chayce Ka’aua.
Maaki and his Rainbow Warriors will open their four game series against Seton Hall on Friday night at 6:35pm.