Riding a six-game winning streak after sweeping Sacred Heart over the weekend, the University of Hawai'i baseball team (10-5) hosts the Indiana Hoosiers (6-7-1) in a four-game series, running Wednesday through Saturday at Les Murakami Stadium.
The Hoosiers and Rainbow Warriors meet for the first time this weekend and this series will mark the third Big Ten team UH has faced this season. Indiana comes to Les Murakami with a 6-7-1 record, including wins over Gonzaga, Florida Atlantic, Samford and Middle Tennessee – most recently winning the series vs. MT in their home opener last weekend.
Don't let the sub-.500 record serve as an indicator, the Hoosiers are a typically physical Big Ten squad and only three years removed from a College World Series appearance. The Hoosiers were picked third in the preseason B1G poll and are projected to make a return trip to the NCAA tournament this season.
The Hoosiers are batting .263 as a team with a healthy dose of extra base hits and a 5.3 runs per game average, despite playing 11 of their first 14 games over 1,000 miles from Bloomington across the first two weeks of 2017. Pacing the Hoosiers, freshman shortstop Jeremy Houston is hitting .311 and ties for the team lead of 10 RBI, chipping in three doubles and two triples. Senior left fielder Craig Dedelow is a power run-scorer for IU, batting .288 with three doubles and four home runs, scoring 11 runs with eight RBI.
On the mound, the Hoosiers allow an average of 3.8 runs per game with a staff ERA at 3.31, ranking second in the Big Ten and 49th nationally. The IU pitching staff averages 6.2 strikeouts per game and 2.87 walks, which comes in at 33rd nationally.
Meanwhile, the Rainbow Warriors have been hot since the end of the San Francisco series, winning six consecutive games and nine of the last 10 contests. UH holds the best 15-game record since the 2012 season. A sound mix of veterans and newcomers have factored into recent success, as UH is paced by transfer center fielder Dylan Vchulek, hitting .333 with three doubles, five stolen bases, 11 runs and eight RBI. Vchulek has reached base in all 15 games at UH so far. In addition, freshman shortstop Dustin Demeter tops UH with 12 RBI, in addition to seven runs on a .308 average.
Batting .256, the Rainbow Warriors have reached double-digit hits in their last 5-of-8 games with an average of 4.5 runs per game, while facing off with a top-50 schedule.
The men on the mound for Hawai'i have been at the center of the Rainbow Warrior story early in 2017. The pitching staff as a whole carries a 2.35 ERA, which ranks first in the pitching-prominent Big West, as well as 10th in the NCAA. In addition, the Rainbow Warrior hurlers are stingy with their free passes, ranking fifth in the NCAA in walks per nine innings (2.02). Pacing the 'Bows is reigning Big West Pitcher of the Week Brendan Hornung at 16th nationally with a 0.60-walk average and a sixth-ranked 17.00 strikeout-to-walk ratio.
University of Hawai'i Games 16-19
What: Hawai'i Rainbow Warriors (10-5) vs. Indiana Hoosiers (6-7-1)
When: Wednesday, March 15, 6:35 p.m. HT
Thursday, March 16, 6:35 p.m. HT
Friday, March 17, 6:35 p.m. HT
Saturday, March 18, 1:05 p.m. HT
Where: Honolulu, O'ahu (Les Murakami Stadium)
Television: OC Sports For Game 2-3 on Thursday and Friday
Live Video Streaming: OC Sports (Game 2) (Game 3)
Radio: All games will be broadcast live on the radio with Jim Leahey and Scott Robbs covering each game on the call. ESPN Honolulu 1420 AM will air all four contests. Neighbor islands can listen live on KNUI on Maui, KHLO in Hilo, KKON in Kona and KTOH on Kaua'i.
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