HONOLULU – The University of Hawai’i baseball team (22-14, 4-5 BWC) heads back to the road for a single Big West road series, taking on CSUN (20-22, 7-5 BWC) at Matador Field, April 28-30.
The Rainbow Warriors look to improve their conference road record after going 3-3 on the last road swing, claiming a series win over UC Riverside. UH is coming off a 2-1 series loss at home to UC Davis after dropping a weather-forced doubleheader to the Aggies on Saturday. At present, the Rainbow Warriors sit just one win shy of matching last year’s win total with 17 games remaining.
The CSUN Matadors earned a series sweep of UC Riverside over the weekend, dropping a midweek contest to Loyola Marymount on Tuesday, 18-10. The Matadors are batting just .254, but when they make contact, they cash in; hitting 32 percent of their hits for extra bases, including 36 home runs. CSUN averages 5.0 runs per contest. Leading that charge is their lone hitter over .300, second baseman Alvaro Rubalcaba. The junior is hitting .304 with team highs of 31 runs, 12 steals and a .420 on-base percentage. CSUN’s power hitter, junior first baseman Albee Weiss is hitting .288 and has racked up team highs of 12 doubles, nine home runs, two triples and 39 RBI; also leading the team with 34 strikeouts. The ‘Bows should also be wary of outfielder Kevin Riley, who hits .299 with 11 doubles, seven homers, 29 RBI and 29 runs.
On the mound, CSUN holds a 5.20 staff ERA and has given up 5.7 runs per game. As for the ‘Bows staff; although UH has taken some hits lately, the ‘Bows still remain at second in the pitching-heavy Big West with a 3.45 ERA (also ranking 31st nationally). The ‘Bows allow 4.7 runs per outing overall.
The Rainbow Warriors were limited offensively over the weekend against UC Davis, which dropped the team average to .268, but the ‘Bows still rank fifth in the conference (163rd nationally) and tack up 5.2 runs per game. Still at the forefront of the UH offense, sophomore catcher Kekai Rios leads the team with a .339 average; the sixth-best mark in the conference. He tops the ‘Bows with a .438 on-base percentage, logging nine doubles, 20 runs and 15 RBI, while stopping 12 base thieves from behind the plate.
Center fielder Dylan Vchulek has extended his reached base streak to each of the 36 games this season, which lists as the sixth-longest such active streak in the nation. Not to mention that he’s batting .324 as the leadoff batter, notching a hit in 14 of the last 16 games, including the last seven straight. The junior leads the team with 12 steals and 28 runs, chipping in 19 RBI as well.
Coming off an injury that kept him out of nine weeks of action, junior Chayce Ka’aua has jumped right back into it, batting .333 with a double and two RBI in three appearances over the weekend.
Hovering in the top 10 much of the season, the Rainbow Warriors have moved all the way to the front of the class and take over the NCAA leader role this week in walks per nine innings, averaging just 2.07. Through 326 combined innings, Hawai’i has allowed only 75 walks for an average of 2.07 per nine innings to rank first in the NCAA. The ‘Bows have also struck out 222 batters, leading UH to an NCAA 18th-ranked (BWC third) 2.96 strikeout-to-walk ratio.
The ‘Bows and Matadors have an extensive history, dating back to 1981, and will meet for the 46th time to open the series. Historically, the series has not favored the ‘Bows, who trail 29-16, and are 4-8 against the Matadors since joining the Big West, ending a nine-year gap in 2013.
Series Pitching Matchups
|Thursday:||RHP Brendan Hornung
(5-3, 2.70 ERA, 76.2 IP, 6 BB, 68 SO)
|RHP Tei Vanderford
(4-4, 3.37, 69.1 IP, 28 BB, 54 SO)
|Friday:||RHP Jackson Rees
(3-0, 4.03 ERA, 51.1 IP, 21 BB, 26 SO)
|RHP Andrew Weston
(5-1, 3.29, 63.0 IP, 14 BB, 39 SO)
|Saturday:||RHP Neil Uskali
(6-2, 3.29 ERA, 63.0 IP, 12 BB, 40 SO)
|RHP Samuel Myers
(3-5, 4.00, 63.0 IP, 19 BB, 56 SO)
What: Hawai’i Rainbow Warriors (22-14, 4-5 BWC) at CSUN Matadors (20-22, 7-5 BWC)
When: Friday, April 28, 12:00 p.m. HT
Saturday, April 29, 10:00 a.m. HT
Sunday, April 30, 10:00 a.m. HT
Where: Northridge, Calif. (Matador Field)
Live Video Streaming: CSUN will live stream the first and third games on BigWest.tv
Radio: All games will be broadcast live on the radio with Mel Proctor covering each game on the call live from Northridge. ESPN Honolulu 1420 AM will broadcast all three games. 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 CSUN Athletics throughout the series.