The Hawaii baseball team will attend the University of California Irvine with first place on the line
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The main event comes first when the Big West baseball leaders compete in a series of four games on Cicerone Field at Anteater Ballpark in Irvine, California.
UC Irvine (4-0 in league games) and Hawaii (3-1) open today with two of the Big West’s best pitchers. The UCI’s Trenton Denholm was named pitcher of the year in the league’s preseason. This season Denholm is 1-1 with 3.48 ERA. A week ago Denholm allowed a run in six innings against UC Davis.
The Rainbow Warriors have won nine straight wins when Aaron Davenport starts. This year Davenport stands 1-0 with 1.67 ERA and 0.93 WHIP. He averages 12.3 strikes per nine innings.
UH trainer Mike Trapasso downplayed the hype of the Big West program’s second weekend.
“It’s too early to win any title at the weekend than two teams that have a chance to fight pretty well against each other,” said Trapasso. The anteaters are “so well trained. Ben (Orloff, UCI’s trainer) does such a good job. They are a veteran club, like most clubs in our league, because everyone gets their players back (in a COVID year). Your pitching is strong. Your lineup is strong. “
For the anteaters, it starts with Denholm, who relies on a falling 92 mph fastball, a 12-6 curveball, and an alternation. Denholm has thrown strikes on 68.7% of its pitches.
“Starts right outside the goal with your Friday guy who is as many tabs as the top pitcher in our conference,” said Trapasso. “He has power to come upon you with good things.”
In return, Davenport has dazzled with a fastball at 92 mph, a high spin rate curveball, and a switch for the past two years. “He came up with an elite curveball,” said Trapasso. “If it’s not broken, don’t fix it.”
But as a freshman in 2019, Davenport knew he had to devise a switch so as not to be a one-pitch pitcher if his curveball was wrong. On its last launch in 2019, Davenport increased its change count. “I realized this could be good for the arsenal,” admitted Davenport.
Davenport threw himself off a flat surface to concentrate on the handle and arm slot of the bill. He also worked on throwing each pitch with the same motion. “It was this commitment that he made in the fall (2019) to focus on the transition and turn it into a weapon,” said Trapasso. “It’s really a plus now, and it takes him over the hill to be an elite guy. He has three spaces that he can throw at any time and at will. We threw 3-2 curveballs, 3-2 changes, 3-2 fastballs. “
Davenport has held opposing clubs at .189 with runners on base and .233 in two-out situations.
Davenport also becomes a rigid master figuring out the difference between intensity and emotion. “In baseball, emotion can be the enemy and hinder improvement,” Trapasso said. “Intensity is the laser focus, pitch by pitch. AD has been really impressive the last few years with his maturity and demeanor on the hill. “
Davenport said, “I would say I’m a very intense pitcher when I’m on the hill. I try to keep emotions aside. Pretty much how I interpret this and what (trapasso) means is if someone is looking at me and I’m on the hill they shouldn’t be able to tell if I’m having a perfect game or allowing three runs. I try to stay right there and keep a balanced head throughout the game. I’ve never been an emotional gamer. I was taught to keep that inside and not let it show. I’m pretty unemotional throughout. “