Hawaii puts its streak of three consecutive home Big West series wins on the line this weekend against the top team in the conference, No. 8 UC Santa Barbara.
Friday night is a chance to see UCSB right-hander Dillon Tate, the No. 2 overall college draft prospect by Baseball America, start for the Gauchos, who lead the Big West in hitting, pitching and defense. Tate was scratched from his last start with a minor trapezius injury, but is good to go this week against the Rainbow Warriors.
UCSB is the only team in the country to feature four starting pitchers with winning records and ERA’s of 2.61 or better. Hawaii will counter with a solid rotation of its own, featuring RHP L.J. Brewster (5-3, 2.35 ERA), RHP Tyler Brashears (5-4, 2.20 ERA) and LHP Jarrett Arakawa (2-2, 3.26 ERA).
All three have to feel pretty good knowing sophomore LHP Quintin Torres-Costa is ready to go behind them. Torres-Costa has been absolutely nasty as a reliever in his last eight outings, striking out 22 in 14 scoreless innings while allowing only five hits.
Hawaii has won both series against UCSB since joining the Big West. The Gauchos series loss to the Rainbow Warriors at home last year might have been the decisive blow to knock them out of a regional despite a 34-17-1 overall record. UCSB was just 12-12 in conference.
Les Murakami Stadium has seen some great pitchers over the years with the schedule UH plays and Tate might very well be near the top of that list. He’s struck out 71 in 67 2/3 innings with two complete games and a 1.73 ERA.
Lineups and in-game updates will follow below.
UCSB 29-9, 6-3
Andrew Calica, CF (.329, 6 2b, 2 3b, 30 runs)
Peter Maris, 3B (.280, 6 2b, 17 runs)
Luke Swenson, RF (.348, 6 2b, 4 3b, 18 RBIs)
Robby Nesovic, 1B (.370, 8 2b, 34 RBIs)
Cameron Newell, LF (.355, 8 2b, 2 3b, 3 HR, 22 RBIs)
Woody Woodward, 2B (.333, 7 2b, 11 RBIs)
Billy Fredrick, DH (.476, 1 2b, 4 RBIs)
Clay Fisher, SS (.264, 4 2b, 1 3b, 18 runs)
Campbell Wear, C (.168, 2 2b, 1 HR, 13 RBIs)
RHP Dillon Tate (5-3, 1.73 ERA, 67 2/3 IP, 71 K)
Hawaii 14-24, 5-7
Stephen Ventimilia, 2B (.256, 5 2b, 1 3b, 17 runs)
Alan Baldwin, RF (.279, 4 2b, 2 3b, 1 HR, 14 RBIs)
Kaeo Aliviado, CF (.255, 6 2b, 1 3b, 4 HR, 24 RBIs)
Alex Sawelson, DH (.301, 4 2b, 14 RBIs)
Eric Ramirez, 1B (.308, 4 2b, 26 RBIs)
Marcus Doi, LF (.238, 2 2b, 10 runs)
Chayce Ka’aua, C (.273, 7 2b, 16 runs)
Jacob Sheldon-Collins, SS (.248, 3 2b, 1 3b, 7 RBIs)
JJ Kitaoka, 3B (.208, 3 2b, 1 3b, 1 HR, 17 RBIs)
RHP L.J. Brewster (5-3, 2.35 ERA, 65 IP, 42 K)
TOP 1: Kitaoka, who was pulled after two innings last Sunday because of defensive lapses, starts the game with a web gem. Diving stop and throw out of Calica at first. Great play. Maris reaches on an infield single but Brewster gets a big strikeout of Swenson and Nesovic, the reigning Big West player of the week, grounds out to short. Good start for Brewster. A K and 3 strikeouts.
BOTTOM 1: Tate, the starter for UCSB, is the No. 1 draft prospect by D1baseball.com and No. 2 by Baseball America. His first fastball is 96. Ventimilia then bunts to third and it’s a close play at first but called out. Real close play. Ventimilia thought he was safe. Baldwin then takes a 3-2 offspeed pitch that looks inside for Strike 3. Aliviado pops out to center on a sliding catch. About as exciting of a 1-2-3 innings as you’ll see. Couple of calls go against UH.
TOP 2: A one-out walk dooms Brewster as Woodward scores on a two-out RBI single by Fisher, who is then thrown out trying to steal second by Ka’aua. Gauchos take early lead.
BOTTOM 2: Tate throws three offspeed pitches in a row to Ramirez and then misses on a fastball for a four-pitch walk with one out. Hard luck as Doi squares up a 2-1 fastball but right back to Tate it goes for the 1-6-3 DP.
TOP 3: High chopper to third and Kitaoka doesn’t look it all the way into his glove for an E5. Ninth error this season for Kitaoka. Brewster strikes out Calica and Maris bunts for a hit. Brewster gets out of the inning as Nesovic flies out to right with two on.
TOP 4: Brewster in some trouble after hitting the leadoff guy and then hanging an 0-2 breaking ball to Woodward, who dumps it into center for a base hit. Two outs for Wear, the No. 9 hitter and Brewster leaves an 0-1 fastball up in the zone and it’s hit into right to drive in Woodward. Calica strikes out looking to end it.
BOTTOM 4: Nesovic robs Ventimilia of a hit with a leaping catch at first or else it would have extra bases likely. Baldwin reaches on an error and Aliviado is hit. They move up on a wild pitch but Tate throws two straight sliders down 2-1 to get a strikeout and Ramirez flies out to center on the first pitch.
TOP 5: A leadoff double by Maris has the Gauchos in business again. UCSB bunts him to third and Brewster gets a huge strikeout of Nesovic but then a wild pitch on a 2-0 breaking ball to Newell brings in a run.
TOP 7: Brewster strikes out Maris looking on his 113th pitch and is done after 6 2/3 innings. Lawrence Chew makes his first appearance since March 22 against New Mexico State. He hits a batter and falls behind 3-0 to Nesovic before eventually walking him. Grounder to first and Ramirez bobbles it at first. Chew is late to cover, however, and the run scores and Ramirez throws it away to allow a second run to score.
We’re officially on no-hitter watch through 7. Tate has allowed two walks and struck out six. Last opposing no-hitter? April 10, 2010. Greg Gonzalez of Fresno State beat Hawaii 1-0 in seven innings. The losing pitcher in that game? KHON2’s Sam Spangler, who is in the TV booth with Jim Leahey tonight taking Pal Eldredge’s place.
UCSB takes out Tate after seven innings. Final line: 7 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 6 K. Freshman Kyle Nelson comes on in relief and JJ Kitaoka singles with two outs for UH’s first hit. Baldwin adds a single in the ninth but that’s it. Gauchos win 5-0.