HONOLULU — The University of Hawaii baseball team, still recovering from being swept at home last weekend by UC Irvine, will not have it much easier this weekend as it plays host to No. 4-ranked Cal Poly San Luis Obispo.
The three-game Big West Conference series at Les Murakami Stadium begins at 6:35 p.m. Friday, followed by another 6:35 p.m. game on Saturday capped off by Sunday’s 1 p.m. finale. Friday’s and Saturday’s games will be televised live statewide on OCSports.
The Rainbow Warriors (14-16 overall, 2-4 Big West) received uncharacteristic poor performances by their three starting pitchers last weekend, and the defense did not help with a combined seven errors. Their offense was held to a combined three runs in the first two games, but rebounded to score eight runs on 12 hits in the series finale, including a grand slam by Marc Flores (UH’s first since 2010) and a solo shot by Adam Hurley.
No. 2 batter Kaeo Aliviado went 4-for-5 on Sunday, raising his season average to .295, and Hurley went a combined 4-for-9 in the series to lift his average to .333. True freshman designated hitter Marcus Doi continues to lead the regulars with a .351 average, despite going a combined 3-for-12 over the weekend.
Flores is hitting .303 and leads the team with three home runs and 25 runs batted in.
Cal Poly SLO (26-5, 5-1) is alone atop the Big West standings and is coming off an 18-game homestand, capped by Tuesday’s 6-2 victory over Saint Mary’s. The Mustangs’ only conference loss was an 8-6 home defeat to UC Santa Barbara last Friday. Hawaii started its Big West season by winning two out of three games at UCSB two weeks ago.
Cal Poly is hitting .298 as a team and has outscored opponents by an aggregate score of 204-104; its pitching staff has an earned run average of 3.05 with 294 strikeouts and 103 walks in 284 innings. The Mustangs lead the nation in strikeouts-per-nine-innings and are No. 3 in winning percentage and No. 13 in fielding percentage.
Outfielder Nick Torres is hitting .333 and already has seven home runs and 49 RBIs, DH Brian Mundell has 11 home runs and 42 RBIs, and closer Reed Reilly has a 2.29 ERA with 14 saves.
WAHINE TRAVEL TO LONG BEACH STATE: The Rainbow Wahine softball team (19-16, 4-2) goes back on the road this weekend for a three-game Big West series at first-place Long Beach State (29-9, 6-0).
The series starts with a 10 a.m. (HST) doubleheader on Saturday, followed by a single game at 10 a.m. Sunday. All three games will be televised live on ESPN3.
Hawaii is coming off a series loss (1-2) at home vs. Cal State Fullerton. One bright spot for the Rainbow Wahine was junior first baseman Leisha Liilii, who went a combined 4-for-7 with a double, home run and six RBIs to lift her batting average to .392 with 10 home runs, 20 walks and 29 RBIs — all team-highs.
Center fielder Lindsey Willmon batted .333 in the series, with two home runs and the game-winning RBI in the bottom of the seventh of Saturday’s 6-5 victory.
Right fielder Keiki Carlos is second on the team with a .348 average, and leads the squad with 39 hits, 28 runs and nine doubles. Second baseman Jazmine Zamora is batting .310 with 16 runs and 10 RBIs.
Sophomore Loie Kesterson leads the pitchers with a 10-7 record and 4.32 ERA.
ZARKOVIC IS AVCA NATIONAL PLAYER OF WEEK: The Rainbow Warriors men’s volleyball team wraps up its Mountain Pacific Sports Federation regular season this weekend with two matches at Pepperdine.
The matches will start at 4 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, and both matches will be broadcast live on radio via NBC Sports Radio AM 1500.
Hawaii, ranked No. 9 in this week’s AVCA national poll, is 15-10 overall and in a three-way tie for third place in the MPSF standings at 13-9. Pepperdine is 16-6 (with no non-conference matches) and is now ranked No. 2.
UH outside hitter Sinisa Zarkovic was named Sports Imports/AVCA National Player of the Week for helping Hawaii upset then-No. 2-ranked Brigham Young twice last weekend in the Rainbow Warriors’ final homestand. Zarkovic, a 6-foot-4 sophomore from Belgrade, Serbia, had 12 kills, one ace, three digs and three blocks in a five-set comeback victory last Friday and then notched 22 kills, four blocks and five digs in a sweep on Saturday.
It is the first time since 2003 that two different UH players were named National Player of the Week in the same season; Brook Sedore won the honor earlier this year.
WATER POLO WRAPS UP REGULAR SEASON: The Rainbow Wahine water polo team will conclude its regular season this weekend with home matches against UC Davis at 6 p.m. Saturday and Cal State Monterey Bay at noon on Sunday.
Amy Carlson and Danielle Lewis will be honored in a traditional Senior Night ceremony after Saturday’s match.
Hawaii is 15-9 overall and 2-2 in the Big West.