UH's Hill feels good about pitchers as staff rounds into shape

Mar. 22—The Hawaii baseball team's cell phone clocks apparently are not equipped with a "snooze " feature.

The Hawaii baseball team's cell phone clocks apparently are not equipped with a "snooze " feature.

"Every minute these guys are being evaluated, " UH coach Rich Hill said. "We won't stop evaluating until that last out of the last game, and that's just kind of how we do it. The audition aspect of the thing is over. This is winning every game. This is the seventh game of the World Series, or 'We win this game we go to the regionals.' Guys have had their opportunities. Not only in the game but in practice and the weight room and the classroom to display and show their character and skill. So we feel good about the guys we're going to roll out there and go to war with."

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Heading into this weekend's interconference series against Tulane, the Rainbow Warriors appear to have established a left-handed pitching rotation of Harry Gustin, Randy Abshier and Harrison Bodendorf.

Last weekend against Cal Poly, Gustin allowed five hits and struck out six in 5 2 /3 scoreless innings. "That's a four-pitch mix going close to 90 pitches, " Hill said of Gustin's 87-pitch outing.

Abshier, a transfer from Arizona, surrendered five hits and two runs in five innings. Bodendorf did not allow a run in the first three innings before being tagged for two runs in the fourth inning.

"Three quality starts, in my opinion, " Hill said.


Hill also praised the "quality relief " work of Alex Giroux and Dalton Renne. In his only start, Giroux relinquished a run in two innings against Wright State on opening weekend. In his next four appearances, all in relief, Giroux has allowed one run in 15 2 /3 innings for a 0.57 ERA. Overall, he is 3-0 with a team-best 1.02 ERA and 0.68 WHIP.

"Alex Giroux has just been lights out all year, " Hill said.

Renne struggled in his first four appearances, allowing 10 runs in nine innings. But he did not give up a run in 3 1 /3 innings against Cal Poly.

Ball State transfer Zach Losey, whose fastball touches the mid-90s, has moved into contention for a set-up role.


Connor Harrison, who has three saves and averages 10.8 strikeouts per nine innings, has secured the closer's job.

"The thing that jumps out immediately to me is the pitching, " Hill said after the'Bows won two of three to earn the first series victory over Cal Poly in 11 years of Big West membership. "I finally walked away from a series going, 'OK, there's six or seven (pitchers ) that can mix and match, and things are starting to take shape."

Hill said he expects left-hander Tai Atkins to regain last year's form, when he averaged 11.4 strikeouts per nine innings and held Big West hitters to a.208 average. Atkins did not retire any of the Cal Poly batters he faced last Saturday.

Hill likened Atkins' situation to major league pitcher MacKenzie Gore's. Hill said Gore also struggled before figuring it out and earning a spot in the Washington Nationals' starting rotation.


"We're going to do some things, pretty non-dogmatic things, " Hill said of Atkins' reboot training. "Have him throw first base to second base. Throw from the outfield. Shorten up his delivery. He's not going to throw in the midweek. We're going to do some things in the bullpen. We've got some ideas to get Tai back on track."

Hill said Atkins has remained upbeat, recalling a chat on Sunday, a day ahead of the'Bows' return to Honolulu.

"We're getting a smoothie, " Hill recalled, then telling Atkins : "Man, I love you, dude. We're going to get this thing figured out, and let's just stay positive and keep cracking rocks. This thing is going to be a great story. When it's all said and done, you're gonna come back."

NCAA Baseball At Les Murakami Stadium Tulane (5-15 ) vs. Hawaii (9-8 )—When : 6 :35 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 1 :05 p.m. Sunday—TV : Spectrum Sports (Friday and Saturday only )—Radio : KKEA, 1420-AM