HONOLULU — The University of Hawai’i baseball team (17-12), will begin its final Western Athletic Conference run against defending WAC Tournament champion Fresno State (14-14). The WAC will play a three-game series this year, down from four, as UH and FS face each other today (6:35 p.m.), Friday (6:35 p.m.), and Saturday (1:05 p.m.) at Les Murakami Stadium.
The ‘Bows, winners of three straight, and Bulldogs were named WAC co-regular Season Champions last season, with the two teams splitting their regular season series in Fresno, Calif. The ‘Bows won the first two games which included a 10-inning series-opening thriller before FS salvaged a split with wins in games three and four. They met again in the WAC Tournament as UH fell twice to FS, the second in the tournament championship.
The series will feature the top two pitching teams in the WAC. As a staff the Rainbows rank first with an impressive ERA of 2.65, while FS is second at 3.36. Jarrett Arakawa boasts a league-low 1.32 ERA after tossing eight shutout innings this past week against UC Davis, and Fresno State’s Tyler Linehan, Justin Haley, and Thomas Harlan rank two, three, and four respectively.
At the plate, UH is led by freshman Stephen Ventimilia who leads the team in batting (.323), on-base percentage (.465), runs scored (23), and stolen bases (8). Collin Bennett is hitting .312 with a team-high 16 RBI, and Pi’ikea Kitamura had a sensational UC Davis series, hitting .467 (7-15) with four runs and four RBI including a walk-off base hit in UH’s 11-inning Saturday win.