With Tuesday's highly anticipated home game vs. Washington State postponed, the Zags (10-13) will have fresh arms when they begin a trying weekend series in Manoa against the University of Hawaii (14-11) on Friday.
GU's last game was against Utah State on the 27th, so whoever coach Machtolf chooses to throw should be able to go the distance. Carpenter and Martin are still settling into their starting roles, and going up against a top-heavy lineup like UH will give them experience working through a minefield: of the first five hitters, four are hitting above .300 (the other holds a .295 avg.). Good news for the Bulldog pitchers is that once they're through the first five, the bottom half will be smooth sailing (the Warriors have been rotating those players, most of which are squatting around .250).
The Gonzaga starting nine, on the other hand, has recently been batting steady the whole way through, and has gotten better at scoring runs economically in the last few series. In their most recent game, an 8-3 win, they only compiled five hits! Four of the runs came from Mark Castellitto, and the rest reached base on walks (eight combined) and were driven in by simple base hits. And to prove the strength of the lineup, the other four hits for GU were all by different players (Bolinger, Eslick, Hunter, and Sturdivant). On a side note, Castellitto was named Pro-Line National Athletic Player of the Week...the award is presented by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association.
The Warriors are lucky enough to have a beautiful, temperate, spring-baseball friendly campus where teams want to visit: they've played 20 of 25 games this season at home. Unfortunately for them, it doesn't appear to have helped all that much, as their home record is only 11-9. To be fair, they've faced the likes of two-time national champion Oregon State and USC, but they've also seen easy squads like Oregon (only in its second year), Citadel, and Air Force. Let's not forget that Gonzaga has only played two home games this year, so playing away won't faze us.
As stated previously, Hawaii's lineup is top-heavy. The most dangerous player, interestingly enough, is only a sophomore: native Hawaiian Kolten Wong. He's started every game in his collegiate career, and even seniors look to him for leadership. Last season he was named to the freshman All-American team by Louisville Slugger, Baseball America, and Rivals.com. And if you weren't scared of this kid enough already, he played on the USA National team last summer. Through the first 25, he's batting .352 with 32 hits and 15 RBIs. But he's been less dominant recently: he only put up six hits in the Warriors' recent five game road trip.
Truth be told, Hawaii doesn't appear to be that much better than GU, it's just that the Bulldogs are on the other side of .500. But records going into this series aren't important, since they don't really equate. We've has faced tougher competition this season in Missouri, Kansas, BYU, and nationally ranked UC Irvine.
I don't anticipate this series to be a sweep for either team: they're both coming off of mediocre road trips and need some more Ws for morale's sake. We'd like to return to Spokane to play Washington coming off of some wins.
All three games will be video streamed live at www.uhstreaming.oceanic.com .