UH Hilo 2019 Baseball Team Signs Six Players
The University of Hawaiʻi Hilo baseball team has announced the signing of six players to National Letters of Intent for the 2019 season according to coach Kallen Miyataki.
Five of the student athletes are high school seniors this spring and one will be a junior college transfer. Two are local products and four are from Southern California.
Waiakea High School standouts Trayden Tamiya and Casey Yamauchi won’t have to go far to continue their baseball careers after they finish their prep seasons this spring.
Both are infielders, with a history of success locally. Waiakea reached the title game last spring of the HHSAA Division I Championships, falling to Maui High School.
Yamauchi hit .463 and was a First Team All-BIIF second baseman, while Tamiya hit .351 and was tabbed as a First Team All-BIIF pick at shortstop. Both also played on the Hilo-based Nobu Yamauchi Senior baseball team, which won the RBI World Series title last summer.
“Trayden has plus speed, is a defensive wizard and has outstanding game knowledge,” Miyataki said. “He is a very hard, diligent worker who will get better with experience and maturity. He will be counted on to make an impact for us defensively up the middle. He brings to UH Hilo the traits needed for us to compete in the Pacific West Conference.
“Casey also brings a ton of game savvy needed at this level. He has always been a winner. He can play a variety of positions, and he is always thinking and striving to win. I have watched Casey throughout his career and he is the kind of player that we need to move forward.”
Miyataki also signed two players from South Hills High School in West Covina, Calif., a school that last spring was ranked No. 7 nationally by USA Baseball. South Hills beat the No. 1 team in the country last spring (Archbishop McCarthy) and won the California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) title in 2016. Four Huskies were drafted this past spring in the Major League Baseball draft. South Hills players Michael Ortega (left-handed pitcher) and Nicholas Lugo (shortstop) will join the Vulcan program in the fall of 2018.
“These guys come from one of the top high school programs in the country,” Miyataki said. “South Hills has produced MLB players (Giambi brothers, Cory Lidle) and countless Division I signees. Head coach Darren Murphy said that both Michael and Nicholas will be key players for them this spring. Michael changes speeds well and hits his spots. Nick is a terrific defensive player and hits the ball very well. He hits left-handed, which is a plus. Both of them will step in and compete for jobs at UH Hilo.”
Garrett Gladney is another southern California pitcher with a big upside. At 6-4, 230 pounds, the right-hander has touched 90 MPH and plays for Bellflower High School. “We saw Garrett play last summer in Arizona and he was very impressive,” Miyataki added. “He has the potential to be very good at UH Hilo. The expectation is for him to learn quickly at the college level and enhance our staff.”
The junior college transfer on the signee list is also a right-handed pitcher. Race Gardner will come to Hilo after finishing his sophomore year this spring at Pasadena City College. He is 6-0, 195 pounds and had a 6-5 record last year for the Lancers, who won the conference title. He led PCC in wins and innings pitched (77.2) and was a First Team All-South Coast Conference selection. He threw a complete game during a 3-2 victory over Riverside CC in the CCCAA South Regional, helping the Lancers to advance to the Super Regionals against El Camino JC.
“We expect Race to help give our pitching staff some stability and maturity,” Miyataki said of the Glendora, Calif. native. “Though not a flame thrower, Race is a “pitcher” and is what we need to compete against the great offensive baseball teams in our conference. We expect great things from him.”
Signing six players this fall was a step forward for the Vulcans, who signed two in the 2016 early signing period. The next NCAA signing period is in April, 2018.
Hawaiʻi Hilo is an NCAA Division II school that plays in the 14-team Pacific West Conference.