Thursday, April 14, 2022 | By Josh Pachecho
Since people like to put names and labels on things, let’s do that for Hawaii’s upcoming seven-game baseball road trip.
I’ll dub it the “step-up series.”
Why? For starters, the Thursday start to the three-game series at CSU Bakersfield to accommodate the Easter holiday means adjustments to the starting rotation. Head Coach Rich Hill told the media Wednesday night that Blaze Koali’I Pontes will start the opening game of the series to keep Cade Halemanu on his usual routine to go on Friday night.
Pontes has embodied the role of someone who has been asked to step forward by example on the field, pitching through some high leverage situations in the last few weeks. He has pitched at least four innings of relief in each of his last three appearances, allowing just two runs and striking out 13 batters during that stretch.
And staying with the pitching theme, Dalton Renne certainly stepped up in Sunday’s win against UC Riverside. He is 2-0 as a starter in his two chances, and on Saturday, went the longest any starter has gone this season, six and one-thirds innings of quality baseball, pitching to contact and scattering five hits while allowing just one run. The newest member of the Portland Pickles summer-ball team has earned “probable starter” status for Saturday.
That means that Andy Archer, the normal Saturday starter, is in somewhat of a mystery role for this weekend. He could be bumped up to start on Saturday if Renne is needed earlier in the series, but he could also be used as a high leverage bullpen asset. He’s done it before, earning the six-out save at USC earlier this month.
Entering the series at 6-6 in Big West play, the Rainbow Warriors can get right back in the mix with the top half of the conference with a successful road trip, which ends in Davis, CA against the struggling Aggies of UC Davis.
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