Coming off a hotly-contested series at home against Indiana, the University of Hawai'i baseball team (11-8) is looking to bounce back with Mountain West Conference foe San José State (9-9) coming to Les Murakami Stadium. The Rainbow Warriors and Spartans will face off in a four-game series, running Thursday, March 23 through Sunday, March 26.
The Rainbow Warriors and Spartans renew an old WAC series that will see its 98th game in the series opener. UH leads the overall series 57-40, UH winning 58.8 percent of the series contests. The teams last met in 2012, and UH won nine of the last 11 meetings.
The Spartans are fresh off a sweep of MW counterpart Nevada – which Hawai'i will face next week at home. SJSU is having one of its best starts under the guidance of first-year head coach Jason Hawkins, previously from Utah and UC Santa Barbara. Converse to this year, it was game 26 before SJSU hit the 9-win mark in 2016.
A pair of underclassmen are making the biggest impact for SJSU, as freshman center fielder Kellen Strahm leads the Spartans in hits (26), batting average (.366), stolen bases (6) and ties for the team lead of 11 runs. Sophomore shortstop Aaron Pleschner has 10 runs and a .338 average, recording six RBI. Also sharing the run lead is junior Shane Timmons, who bats .243 with a team-high 13 RBI. The Spartans are batting .255 as a unit and average 4.1 runs per game offensively.
With a team ERA at 4.65, the Spartans also average 5.8 runs allowed per contest and opponents have batted .276 against.
On the Hawai'i side of the pitching staff, the Rainbow Warriors have allowed only .245 batting against, even with some big-hitting squads coming up at the plate. Despite a tough week on the mound against the Hoosiers, UH still holds an NCAA 29th-best 3.07 team ERA, largely impacted by giving only 2.3 walks per nine innings – ranking UH at sixth nationally. UH allows just 4.1 runs per game on average.
While the pitching has been on the rise, the Rainbow Warriors have really picked it up at the plate and are hitting .270 as a team, which ranks second in the Big West (119th nationally). Junior center fielder Dylan Vchulek is pacing the 'Bows with a .355 average, while leading the team in runs (16), on-base percentage (.451) and stolen bases (7) – also chipping in 11 RBI. Not far behind, sophomore catcher Kekai Rios is getting hot, collecting a walk-off in Saturday's win on his last at-bat. Rios is hitting .349 with five doubles and 10 runs and six RBI, reaching base at a .446 clip. The Rainbow Warriors average 4.9 runs per game offensively.
The Rainbow Warriors look to keep the heat turned up, reaching double-digit hits in their last four games and nine of the last 12, despite facing off with a top-50 schedule.
Hawaii Athletics Release
Hawaii News Now
420 Waiakamilo Road, Suite 205
Honolulu, HI 96817
Main (808) 847-3246
News (808) 847-1112