Hawaii finally realizing its potential

Freshman catcher Chayce Ka'aua leads Hawaii with a .284 batting average entering Sunday. Photo by Jamm Aquino/Star-Advertiser.
Freshman catcher Chayce Ka’aua leads Hawaii with a .284 batting average entering Sunday. Photo by Jamm Aquino/Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii coach Mike Trapasso has been waiting and waiting for his baseball team to finally break out this season.

Even as the team scuffled out of the blocks, losing two leads to Oregon, dropping two games to Hofstra and then getting pounded in the final three games at Pepperdine, Trapasso’s faith in his club never wavered. Even when the team lost twice to a two-win New Mexico State team the week before opening conference play, Trapasso held steadfast to his beliefs that this could be a good club.

Covering every game this team has played, this clearly isn’t the same team that went 16-35 in 2013 or 6-18 in the Big West in 2014. The potential has been there all season that if they could put it together, they could string together a bunch of wins.

But as February turned into March turned into April, the question became would we ever see that?

As the calendar has turned to May, we finally are.

Hawaii swept a road conference series for the first time since 2007 as a member of the Western Athletic Conference. The Rainbow Warriors handed Long Beach State its first home series sweep in the Big West since 2010. The Dirtbags were thinking potential regional appearance this season heading into this series. After all, they were 18-7 at home this year facing a Hawaii team that had lost 12 of 14 games played outside of Les Murakami Stadium.

The NCAA tournament is pretty much a pipe dream for LBSU (23-20, 8-10) now.

The Dirtbags are now looking up at Hawaii (18-26, 9-9) in the standings. The ‘Bows technically aren’t out of the Big West race, but it would take a miracle on top of a miracle for Hawaii to finish on top. The two road sweeps at UC Irvine and Cal Poly, and especially those first two games against the Mustangs, will likely be the difference.

Nonethless, UH has stuck with it and has suddenly become a team capable of winning a series against anyone. The emergence of Andrew Jones and Quintin Torres-Costa out of the bullpen has been huge. They were the only two relievers used in the entire series against LBSU.

Jones gave up the first two runs he’s allowed in his last four outings on Sunday but finished off the three-inning save for his first of the season.

Torres-Costa has recorded saves in five straight outings and still hasn’t given up a run in his last 11 appearances covering 18 1/3 innings.

It’s allowed Hawaii to win three 1-0 games in the last three weeks and given right-hander Tyler Brashears the confidence behind him to go out and be his nasty self. Brashears, the reigning Big West pitcher of the week, might be in line to win it again after throwing eight shutout innings on Saturday.

Brashears has won his last three starts, has given up one earned run or less in eight of his last nine outings and has gone 21 consecutive innings since giving up his last run. He’s 4-2 with a 1.25 ERA in Big West games and 7-4 with a 1.78 ERA overall.

Only Chris Mathewson, who Brashears beat on Saturday, and UC Santa Barbara right-hander Dillon Tate, who could hear his name called first in June’s MLB Draft, have better ERAs in the conference.

With Jarrett Arakawa putting together six innings of scoreless baseball on Sunday and L.J. Brewster still sporting an ERA under 3 (2.81), Hawaii’s got five pitchers capable of throwing 27 good innings, which is all you need in the Big West. UH showed that this weekend after UCSB, which used only four pitchers, did the same last weekend against Hawaii.

Seven of Hawaii’s regulars are hitting .250 or better now with Marcus Doi coming off a good 2-for-4 showing on Sunday. Freshman Jonathan Weeks has taken over for JJ Kitaoka at third and had a couple of big hits on Friday while playing some pretty good defense.

Sure, it’s probably too little, too late and unless Hawaii wins out, it will finish under .500 overall for an unprecedented third consecutive season. But for a team that has had no success since joining the Big West, it’s a big step in the right direction. These guys are starting to see they can compete in this league and a good finish to the season could go a long way in getting the Hawaii baseball program back to finishing above .500 every year and competing to make a regional.


Record: 18-26 overall, 9-9 Big West
Last series: Swept LBSU 3-0
Up next: at UC Riverside Thur-Sat


  1. Warriorfan May 3, 2015 3:20 pm

    A new coach would go an even a longer way in them getting back to the top of the conference again.

  2. 3Point1Four May 3, 2015 3:23 pm

    Unbelievable performance this weekend. WOW. Never been so proud of our ‘Bows.
    Stay humble, keep your feet on the ground, and don’t overlook any opponent. GO ‘BOWS!!!

  3. Justin May 3, 2015 5:36 pm

    I agree…but how bad do you think the draft is going to get us this season? I think the rotation is going to get wrecked.

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