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Hawaii baseball hopes to move on from contentious weekend with tough matchup vs. UC Santa Barbara

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Rich Hill argues with home plate umpire during game with UC Irvine

HONOLULU (KITV4) -- On Sunday, all of America watched as actor Will Smith lost his cool -- slapping comedian Chris Rock on national television. Meanwhile in Manoa, tempers also flared at the University of Hawaii baseball game between the team and the officiating crew -- leading to multiple protests and a one-game suspension for Bows catcher Dallas Duarte.

An interference call on a play at the plate in the 7th inning caused head coach Rich Hill to start arguing with the officials. Although a replay review showed Duarte had the ball well before the runner reached the plate, the runner was ruled safe.

Hill argued the call for minutes in animated disapproval, to no avail. Hill was ejected and, initially, the team officially protested the score after the game, but then today rescinded the protest and accepted the final 7-1 score.

"It just shows our desire and how important it is. It shows that fighting spirit," Hill said. "At the same time, there's a poise factor and there's a composure factor and those are the rules of the game. We will be better as a team and a staff moving forward."

But the bigger loss is in the 9th inning, Duarte argued with the home plate umpire on a ball four call, was ejected as well and will serve a one-game suspension.

Hill hopes the team can avoid any more trouble with officials going forward, but will always love and support the passion from their starting catcher.

"Honestly, love the kid for what he did for us this Sunday," Hawaii infielder Kyson Donahue said. "We weren't getting some calls our way and he fought for us. He fought for Tai. That's the kind of player he is, willing to put it all on the line to try and help out the whole team."

Now, all this 8-14 Bows squad is thinking about is moving on from their series with UC Irvine last weekend and instead focusing on beating the conference's best team in UC Santa Barbara this weekend on the road.

And the test for UH will be far from easy. 

The 16-6 Gauchos are among tops in the nation in home runs (26, 55th) and team ERA (2.93, 9th).

UCSB features not just eight batters that are hitting at a .278 clip or higher (UH has just one), they also roster six pitchers that have thrown for a 2.70 ERA or lower (UH has only three). 

For rich hill's squad, this weekend's series could be their toughest test of the conference season.

"I think they're the most balanced team in the Big West," Hill said. "They have a great coaching staff. It's a very balanced attack and they always pitch. Now, they have some juice. They're gelling, they've won 11 of their last 13 games. It's an extreme challenge, but we're up for that challenge." 

Have a story idea or sporting event he should cover? Email Keith at kdemolder@kitv.com

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