Baseball Earns Ninth Seeds, Travels to Eight-Seeded Bakersfield in CCCAA Round One Playoffs

Photos by Bobby R. Hester
Photos by Bobby R. Hester

Throughout the majority of the season, the Riverside City College baseball team has been ranked in the top-20 according to the California Community College Sports Information Association (CCCSIA) poll and the California Community College Baseball Coaches Association (CCCBCA) poll. They lived up to the hype by placing third in the always formidable Orange Empire Conference (OEC) and earned the ninth overall seed in the CCCAA playoff bracket. They will travel to Bakersfield, CA to face off against the eighth-seeded Renegades this Friday in a best-of-three game series.

The Tigers finished the season with an overall record of 25-15 that included an 11-10 mark in conference play. In the OEC alone, the Tigers faced off against four top-20 teams and six top-ranked squads throughout the year to boast an RPI in the top-10 in California.

This is the third time the Tigers have advanced to the CCCAA playoffs under Head Coach Rudy Arguelles. He hopes to a part of his fifth state title in his 19th year being involved with the program.

The Tigers own production from top to bottom with sophomore Daniel Martinez running the show at the plate and on the mound.

Offensively, D. Martinez owns a batting average a hair below .300 with a .469 on-base percentage and a .466 slugging percentage. Of his 39 total hits, he has smacked 11 doubles, three triples, and launched a trio of long balls. He has driven in 22 runs, scored 26 times, and paces the team in walks with 35.

On the bump, he acts as the squad's ace. He possesses a record of 6-3 with a team-high 65 punch outs leading to an ERA of 3.05 in 73.2 innings pitched. Furthermore, he has recorded one save and owns a 7.94 strikeout-per-nine innings total.

Freshman left fielder Joseph Hodapp may be the most threatening bat for the Tigers as he paces the team with a .317 batting average, 40 hits, and 24 RBI. He has recorded an RBI in 18 games and has recorded four multi-RBI games. In the final seven games of conference play, he went 14-for-29 (.483) with eight RBI, two doubles, and two runs scored.

Freshman first baseman Dylan Kanoho has had a strong season and acts as a threat from the left side of the dish. Despite being sidelined for a four-game stretch, he compiled a .298 batting average with 18 RBI and 28 runs scores. He did most of his damage in the two-hole of the order in 36 games played. Freshman right fielder Junior Coleman follows closely behind with a .292 batting average and swiped 23 bags which ranks second in conference and tied for ninth in the state.

Freshman Alexander Salazar and sophomore David Barela round out the pitching staff. Salazar has filled many roles throughout the season by making 20 appearances and starting in 10 games. He owns a 3.28 ERA with 61 strikeouts and a team-leading 74 innings pitched. Barela has started in eight games and owns a 4-3 record with a 3.22 ERA. He has won two of his last three games on the hill.

Sophomore southpaw Graham Kuck has been lights out in the closer role by earning seven saves which is tied for sixth in the state. He owns a team-pacing 10.87 strikeouts-per-nine innings and leads the team in appearances with 23.

Bakersfield is paced by freshman first baseman Zach Williams. He posts a .340 batting average, and 50 hits that includes six doubles, five triples, and three homeruns Freshman infielder Hector Ruvalcaba follows with a .328 batting average and 43 this – eight acting as two-bagger.

Freshman Nathan Ortiz is their main arm with a record of 6-4 that includes 50 strikeouts, two saves and two complete games. Freshman Lane Cowan follows with a record of 3-2 and 44 strikeouts in 67 innings pitched.