Fresh off a split series against Big 12 foe West Virginia, the University of Hawai'i Rainbow Warrior baseball team (6-7) will meet Big 10 opponent Michigan (7-3) in the second week of a month-long homestand at Les Murakami Stadium. UH and the Wolverines face off in a four-game set from Thursday through Saturday (March 10-12) in the first full-series meeting between the programs.
The Rainbow Warriors and Wolverines last met in 2008 in a single game of the Coca-Cola Classic in Surprise, Ariz., with UM coming out the winner, 11-5. The programs previously met during the fledgling years of the UH program, the Rainbows falling to UM, 11-5, to close the 1929 season in Honolulu.
Last year's Big 10 Tournament Champion, the Wolverines are off to a winning start at 7-3, but have only played one full series, sweeping Canisius, 4-0, in Florida, before heading west. UM opened up at UC Davis, dropping the first game of the series, 4-3, but vast Northern California flooding cancelled the remainder of the series. At first pitch on Thursday, the Wolverines will be playing their first contest since March 3.
At 39-25 a year ago, UM finished as runner-up in the Louisville NCAA Regional in its first trip to the tournament since 2008. Returning three-quarters of their pitching staff, including 5-of-7 starting pitchers, UM is an experienced team that was picked as the preseason favorite to win the Big 10.
The Wolverines come in batting .293 as a team, led by junior catcher Harrison Wenson, hitting .394 with a team-high 10 RBI and six runs, aided by three home runs. 2015 Big Ten Freshman of the Year, sophomore infielder Jake Bivens is also driving the UM offense, hitting .366 with a team-best 15 hits, scoring eight runs and holding a team second-best .447 on-base percentage. Rounding out the top hitters, Cody Bruder (8 RBI, 6 runs) and Matt Ramsay (8 runs, 3 RBI) are batting .350 and .342, respectively.
Once on base, UM has proven extremely aggressive early, stealing successfully in 17-of-24 attempts.
Making the most of that returning experience, the Wolverines' strength is in pitching, ranking fifth nationally with a team ERA of 1.59 through 85 innings. Elevated from his reliever status this season, sophomore left-hander Oliver Jaskie sits with a 0.00 ERA and 2-0 mark through 11.1 innings, striking out 15 and holding opponents to a .143 average. 2015 Freshman All-America, right-hander Ryan Nutof is at 2-1 through 14.2 innings, striking out eight versus two walks for a 1.23 ERA. Projected to possibly round out the rotation are left-hander Brett Adcock and Evan Hill. Adcock comes in with a 1-1 record and 1.04 ERA, striking out 14, but walking 13. Hill is also 1-1 with a 4.32 ERA, striking out eight thus far. Serving in both a starting and closing role this season, sophomore left-hander Michael Hendrickson is 0-0 with a 2.53 ERA and one save in three appearances, striking out 16 in 10.2 innings.
The Rainbow Warriors split 2-2 with WVU last weekend and showed some flashes on offense with timely hitting against the Big 12 opponent. Pacing UH outright through 13 games has been senior shortstop Jacob Sheldon-Collins, currently on a 12-game hitting streak and leading the team with a .404 batting average, logging 10 RBI and eight runs, getting aboard at a .429 clip—also logging three steals. Making the most of his rookie playing opportunity behind the plate, Kekai Rios is batting .344 with a .417 on-base percentage, recording five RBI and six runs through only 10 full games. Third baseman Johnny Weeks tops UH with 10 runs scored, while first baseman Eric Ramirez recently celebrated his first career home run and tops UH with 11 RBI, registering hits in 9-of-13 contests this season.
On the mound, the primary starters have shown steady ability to produce quality starts, as junior right-hander Brendan Hornung, senior right-hander Kyle Von Ruden and senior left-hander Alex Hatch combine for a 3.33 ERA. Hornung has gotten UH started each week and has a 2.13 ERA and 2-2 record, recording a team-high 19 strikeouts in 25.1 innings. Von Ruden follows with a 3.62 ERA and 1-1 mark, notching 13 strikeouts versus three walks in 27.1 innings. Hatch holds a deceptive 4.50 ERA and 1-1 record after tough first start against big-hitting New Mexico, and has added quality starts in his last two appearances, going 6.1 and 6.2 innings, leading to 17 strikeouts with three walks in 18 innings.
Hawaii Athletics Release
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