Big doubleheader Sunday lies ahead

by Billy Hull on April 9, 2016

Marcus Doi and the rest of the Hawaii baseball team are feeling good right now. Photo by Bruce Asato/Star-Advertiser.

Marcus Doi and the rest of the Hawaii baseball team are feeling good right now. Photo by Bruce Asato/Star-Advertiser.

Saturday’s Game 2 between Hawaii and UC Davis was postponed due to rain, setting up an important doubleheader Sunday at Dobbins Stadium in Davis, Calif.

Hawaii (14-15, 3-1 Big West) has won eight of 11 and can climb all the way back from an early 6-12 record to move above .500 with a sweep of the Aggies (8-16, 1-3).

This would be the latest in the season a Hawaii baseball team has been over .500 since joining the Big West in 2013. It also would guarantee at least a share of first place in the BWC with Cal State Fullerton’s 1-0 loss to Cal Poly today.

As hot as the Rainbow Warriors have been at the plate, the day off Saturday works out well for the ‘Bows. It gives reliever Cody Culp, who had the best outing of his UH career in Friday’s 6-5 win over UC Davis, a day to rest. He likely would not have been available to pitch, although coach Mike Trapasso didn’t rule it out completely on Friday. Now UH will have its top reliever available for at least one of the two games Sunday.

Culp is one of many Rainbow Warriors playing well right now. Here’s a look at a few of them.

Cody Culp, Sr, RHP
2-1, 1.44 ERA, 3 SV
>> Culp has given up just one run over his last eight appearances and threw 4 1/3 innings of one-hit ball to earn the win in Friday’s victory. He has cemented himself as the workhorse of the bullpen and is filling the role held by Quintin Torres-Costa last season. He’s always been prone to give up hits but he’s even been good at that, giving up just seven in his last 12 1/3 innings with 12 strikeouts and one walk. He’s got the kind of arm that can pitch two or even three days in a row, so don’t expect a slow down in his workload any time soon.

Jacob Shedlon-Collins, Sr, SS
.410 BA, 6 2B, 17 runs
>> Since missing the first two games against Chicago State with the flu, the UH shortstop has made opposing pitchers sick. He has at least two hits in eight of his 10 games since and is batting .500 (20-for-40) with three doubles, seven runs and six RBIs. Those RBI numbers could go up now that Sheldon-Collins is hitting in the No. 3 hole. His four hits and three RBIs on Friday tied career highs.

Matt LoCoco, Sr, CF
.289 BA, 5 2B, 3 3B, 2 HR, 22 runs, 22 walks
>> Right now the entire team is hitting well but it starts with the guy at the top. LoCoco has the longest current hitting streak on the team and is batting .444 (16-for-36) over those eight games with three doubles and eight runs scored. He’s also gotten on base to lead off games in seven of his last 10. UH is 5-2 when LoCoco scores at least twice in a game.

>> Kyle Von Ruden, Sr, RHP
4-1, 2.76 ERA, 58 2/3 IP, 5 BB
>> Von Ruden has pitched at least seven innings in six consecutive outings and has won his last three. That seven-inning number is huge considering the first game of Sunday’s doubleheader will only go seven. A CG performance from Von Ruden would leave UH’s bullpen completely in tact to try to finish off the series. He hasn’t walked a batter in five of his last six starts and his .077 walks allowed per nine innings trails only UC Davis’ Justin Mullins, who he will oppose in Sunday’s first game.

During Hawaii’s 8-3 stretch over the last 11 games, UH has given up more than five runs only once. It held its opponent to three runs or less in six straight games to start the run and even though UH has allowed 33 runs over its last five games, the offense has picked up the slack. UH has had at least nine hits in each of the last five and at least 11 hits in six of the last nine. That’s quite the difference compared to a 10-game stretch earlier in the season when UH never had more than seven hits in a game once.

Sunday’s doubleheader will start at 9 a.m. Hawaii time. UH expects starting catcher Kekai Rios, who left Friday’s game in the seventh inning with severe cramping in his legs, to play. Rios is currently second on the team with a .346 batting average and is quietly putting together a freshman All-America level season.

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