If UH-Hilo baseball coach Kallen Miyataki wanted to, he could have tried to put the screws to Saint Martin’s.
The Saints arrived in Hilo from Washington state on Saturday night, so it might be tempting for the Vulcans to schedule a Sunday matiºnée to throw off their opponent’s clockwork even more.
That’d be too devilish, Miyataki said.
“They wouldn’t get any sleep,” he joked. “That wouldn’t be fair.”
Instead, Saint Martin’s will have a chance to get situated before the teams open a four-game series at 6 p.m. Sunday at Wong Stadium in what will be the season-opener for the Saints. The Vulcans are trying to rebound from a four-game home sweep at the hands of Augustana (S.C.).
“It should be fun,” Miyataki said. “They have a lot of local players from Honolulu. It should be evenly matched.”
He expected UHH to start off slow this season slow while getting valuable exposure, and he was pleasantly surprised Augustana was strong enough to expose the Vuls in several key areas, especially at the plate.
UHH heads to its fifth game of the season hitting .240 and has been outscored 40-18.
“Their pitching was outstanding, they hit the ball and were fundamentally strong and they showed us what we need to work on,” Miyataki said.
His four starting pitchers will remain the same as the previous series with one tweak. Freshman Travis Burleson of Orange County, Calif., will move up to pitch the second game of Monday’s doubleheader, while Brandyn Lee-Lehano moves back to the No. 4 slot and will get the ball Tuesday.
Burleson, who’s listed as a pitcher/catcher on the roster, performed well against the Vikings in a Feb. 6 start on the mound, striking out six in five innings of work and allowing four hits, two walks and one earned run. Miyataki likes the tandem of Kamalu Neal and Edwin Stanberry behind the plate, so there’s no need for Burleson to catch for now.
“We brought him in to help us on the mound,” Miyataki said. “He can also play third base and shortstop. Not a prototypical guy and we’re adjusting his swing.
“We figure that somewhere he’s going to factor in. I know that (Division I UC Santa Barbara) wanted him.”
All four of the starting pitchers are underclassmen. Presumptive ace Dylan Spain toes the slab Sunday night and redshirt freshman Kyle Alcorn is coming off a strong performance against the Vikings, working 4 2/3 scoreless innings with seven strikeouts.
Spain, a 6-foot-6 sophomore with limited high school experience, was roughed up in his first outing, which lasted only three innings.
“He’s taking his time to develop,” Miyataki said.
The same could be said of the Lee-Lehano, 6-5 and a former BIIF standout at Kamehameha.
“He’s got to learn pitch, not just throw,” Miyataki said.
A pair of local products, outfielder Jonathan Segovia (Keaau High) and Micah Carter (Kamehameha) were two of UH-Hilo’s best hitters against Augustana, registering five and four hits, respectively, and after a year away from the diamond Edison Sakata returned to shortstop and is hitting .333 on the young season.
The Saints carry 11 players from Hawaii on their official roster, including sophomore Makana Aiona, who teamed with Lee-Lehano to help Kamehameha win the 2016 state Division II title. He started five games last season and hit .150 for Saint Martin’s.
Notes: Saint Martin’s (Lacey, Wash.) is picked to finish fifth in the GNAC this year, after finishing 17-30 a year ago with a 14-25 conference mark. … Pitcher Aaron Shoup and outfielder Steven Sordahl were second-team all-GNAC selections in 2017. … The Vulcans feature a robust 31-game home schedule, including the first 20 of the season. … Season tickets are available for $60.