UH-Hilo to Host Hawai’i on Baseball Diamond in 2016
Fans of Big Island baseball will get a rare treat in February when the University of Hawai’i Rainbow Warrior baseball team comes to Hilo to play in a two-game series against the University of Hawai’i at Hilo.
Both sides will meet on Saturday, February 13 at 6 p.m. and Sunday, February 14 at 1 p.m. at Wong Stadium.
“[Mike Trapasso] called me this summer and he just needed a couple of games, so we were very fortunate to have this opportunity,” UH-Hilo baseball coach Kallen Miyataki explained. “When he mentioned this opportunity to me, without hesitation, I said ‘not a problem. I’ll do whatever it takes.’ It just had to be cleared by their administration and everything worked out.”
When UH-Hilo competed as an NCAA Division I institution, Hawai’i and the Vulcans met often. That changed in 2008, when UH-Hilo not only couldn’t compete on the field, but didn’t have the financial resources to compete off of it, deciding then to drop down to Division II, joining its other sports.
The last time these two teams met goes back to UH-Hilo’s final season in Division I. The Vulcans won the last game of a three-game series against UH by the score of 4-3 at Les Murakami Stadium. It snapped a 15-game losing streak against the ‘Bows, which was nothing compared to a whopping 35-game losing skid against UH between 1978 and 1983.
UH-Hilo has occasionally held bragging rights against its big brother. In 2002, which was Mike Trapasso’s first year at Hawai’i, the Vulcans swept a four-game series played at Wong Stadium. Joey Estrella was the coach at the time of that sweep, and he also was at the helm in 1997 when he took two out of three games from his old coach and mentor, Les Murakmi, in Manoa.
Hawai’i holds a 108-20 overall record over UH-Hilo.
Miyataki’s program will get the benefit of likely its largest crowds of the season, but Trapasso will also get an opportunity to use the games as a recruiting tool to woo more Big Island talent to his program. Kolten Wong, a graduate of Kamehameha-Hawai’i, spent three years at Hawai’i before entering the Major League Baseball draft. Currently, Big Island high school alums Chayce Ka’aua (Hilo), Quintin Torres-Costa (Waiakea), and JJ Kitaoka (Konawaena) are seeing lots of action on the field with the Rainbow Warriors, and playing in front of more prospective recruits can be a positive for Hawai’i’s program.
“I think it exposes us,” Miyataki said when asked about how a series against Hawai’i benefits his school. “Everyone wants to play against a Division I school and a team like Manoa, so it’s the big thing.”
Next year’s meeting will be the season opener for both schools’ schedules. It will be the ninth time Hawai’i opens its season against UH-Hilo since 1971, when the Rainbows joined the NCAA as a member institution.
***Background information was provided by the University of Hawai’i sports information department.***