HONOLULU – The University of Hawai'i (15-8) baseball team will meet its second consecutive Mountain West foe this weekend at Les Murakami Stadium, with Nevada (7-17) coming to town as the final Rainbow Warriors non-conference opponent.
For the second time this season, the Rainbow Warriors are streaking, coming into the weekend with five consecutive wins, including a four-game sweep of San José State last week. Hawai'i is off to its best 23-game start since the 2007 season. Also for the second straight week, the Rainbow Warriors renew an old WAC series, meeting the Wolf Pack for the 72nd time to open the series, and looking to take the overall lead -- the series sits now at 37-34 in Nevada's favor. These teams last met in 2014; a 2-2 split series.
The Wolf Pack arrive in Honolulu after a 9-6 Tuesday loss to San Francisco in Reno, but are also coming off a 2-1 conference series victory over Air Force last weekend at home. The Wolf Pack have been offensively effective this season, matching UH in hitting .274 and averaging 5.2 runs per game.
veraging 9.6 hits per outing, Nevada is paced by a trio of sophomore second baseman Keaton Smith, junior third baseman Jordan Pearce and junior right fielder Mike Echavia, who account for 51 runs, 47 RBI, 18 doubles, four triples and 11 home runs. Smith is hitting .317 with 18 runs and ties for the team high of four home runs. Pearce is hitting .326 and Echavia bats .293 with team highs of eight doubles and 17 RBI, also notching four home runs.
With a prominent offensive output ranking in the upper tier of the NCAA, one challenge for the Wolf Pack has been their pitching staff, which also allows 6.95 runs per game on a 5.82 team ERA.
Meanwhile, UH's pitching staff has been right at the heart of the outstanding non-conference performance, ranking 17th in the nation with a 2.93 team ERA, aided by the nation's fourth-lowest walk ratio at 2.21 per game, as well as a 30th-ranked strikeout-to-walk ratio at 2.88.
The 'Bows sit at second in the Big West standings heading into the last week of non-conference play, tied for the top record with defending champion Cal State Fullerton. UH is guaranteed to enter Big West play over .500 for the first time since joining the conference.
Featuring their best batting average since the second season of BBCOR bats (2011), the Rainbow Warriors are hitting .274 as a team (111th NCAA). Running on a hot streak right now is sophomore catcher Kekai Rios, who leads the team with a BWC fourth-best .373 with six doubles, putting up 16 runs and 10 RBI. After one of the hottest weekends in the country, the reigning Big West Player of the Week is freshman utility player Adam Fogel. The Palos Verdes, Calif. rookie hit .750 (9-for-12) with eight RBI and four runs against SJSU. He currently is running second for UH and ninth in the Big West with a .348 average, chipping in seven doubles, 13 RBI and 11 runs.