Friday | December 15, 2017
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College baseball: UH eyes replacements at Long Beach State

The middle of the week was moving day for several University of Hawaii students who were required to relocate from their dormitories because of the spring semester’s conclusion.

The UH baseball team made its own moves to patch an infield that lost two corner players because of suspensions. Third baseman Josh Rojas must sit out Friday’s road game against seventh-ranked Long Beach State because he was ejected during Monday’s game. First baseman Eric Ramirez is suspended for the Rainbow Warriors’ remaining six games after he threw two balls toward an umpire while warming up between innings on Monday.

UH coach Mike Trapasso said Zack Chan, a freshman from Manhattan Beach, Calif., or Jordan LaFave, a transfer from Bellevue (Wash.) College, are the likely replacements for Rojas at third. Both took turns at the hot corner after Rojas was ejected in the second inning.

“Those are two of our most viable options,” Trapasso said. “They’ll be fine. It’s just one game. We’ll go from there. They’ll be good.”

LaFave has played 15 games, making eight starts, at shortstop this season. He is hitting .160, but is considered to be a dependable fielder.

Chan has played seven games, with two starts at second. “I’m trying to fit in, find a role on the team,” Chan said. “It’s obviously tough to fill the shoes of Rojas. He’s really a good player on both offense and defense.”

Rojas has started all 45 games at third this season. He is hitting .283, and is tied with Ramirez with a team-high five home runs.

Trapasso said left fielder Adam Fogel and designated hitter Logan Pouelsen will platoon at first base. Because a knee ailment limited Ramirez to 32 starts this season, Fogel has played seven games at first and Pouelsen has started there six times.

“With Eric’s injuries, we’ve had this situation almost all year,” Trapasso said of the first-base rotation. “Even since he’s come back, we’ve elected to go with Fogel when we’ve faced left-handed pitching. We’re used to having to play without Eric. This group is not going to have any issues.”

Fogel, who is 6 feet 5, played first at Palos Verdes (Calif.) High last year and with a travel team during the summer.

“You like those big, tall, long-armed guys playing over there,” Trapasso said of Fogel.

Fogel said: “It’ll be weird without (Ramirez), but we’ll handle it.”

Pouelsen was signed as a pitcher and corner infielder. Pouelsen, who underwent Tommy John surgery because of an elbow injury last year, has not pitched as a UH freshman this season. At 6 feet 1 and 225 pounds, left-hitting Pouelsen appears to be a power hitter. But appearances are deceiving, and Pouelsen, who is surprisingly quick, views himself as a “contact, gap hitter. Every once in a while, I’ll get a hold of a couple balls.”

Pouelsen is hitting .288 with eight of his 23 hits going for extra bases.

Trapasso said Fogel and Pouelsen are qualified replacements for Ramirez. “They’re baseball players,” Trapasso said, “they make the plays.


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