SoCal Preview: Baseball Earns Third Seed, Set to Host No. 14 Cuesta  

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

For the fifth-consecutive season, the Riverside City College baseball team has reached the California Community College Athletic Association (CCCAA) Southern Regional playoffs. The Tigers earned the third overall seed and will host the No. 14 Cuesta College Cougars on Friday, May 3 and Saturday, May 4 for a best-of-three-series.

This will be a ticketed event as mandated by the CCCAA. There will be a cash only charge of $12 for general admission and an $8 admission fee for students, faculty, staff, veterans, 60 and over and 16 and under fans. Student, faculty and staff must present a valid ID. There will be a $5 parking fee regulated by the Riverside City College District police.

The first pitch for Friday's game is scheduled for 2 p.m. The first game on Saturday will begin at 12 p.m. Game three will begin 30 minutes following the first game, if necessary.

Under Head Coach Rudy Arguelles, the Tigers earned an overall record of 30-10 encompassing a second place finish in the Orange Empire Conference (OEC) with a record of 15-6. Riverside and Cuesta met to kick of their respected seasons with the Cougars hauling in a 2-1 series win. Riverside defeated Cuesta in the first game, 6-3, but the Tigers dropped the following two. In the victory, sophomore ace Garrett Irvin tossed five innings and struck out five, while sophomore Junior Coleman went 3-for-5 with two runs scored. Sophomore first baseman Andrew Talkington launched a solo jack as well.

Riverside has a deep roster that features power, speed and formidable pitching. As a team, they boast a .284 batting average accompanied by a .402 on-base percentage and a .399 slugging percentage. They have hit 12 round trippers and have scored 275 runs in 40 games. Their offense is supported by a 3.12 ERA leading to a 9.63 strikeouts-per-inning mark.

Leading the offense is the power duo sophomore Ulises Caballero and freshman Steve Ramirez.

Caballero brings the noise at the dish when it comes to the long ball. He is responsible for half of the Tigers bombs as he has barreled a team-high six thus leading to a team high 38 RBI. Furthermore, he carts a .305 batting average supported by a .462 on-base percentage and a .525 slugging percentage. He has recorded two or more RBI in 10 games highlighted by a five-RBI game against Orange Coast. He barreled two or more hits in 10 games and ended the regular season on a five game hitting streak.

Ramirez came on very strong towards the latter portion of the season. He paces the Tigers with a .412 batting average (min. 29 at bats), .614 slugging percentage highlighted by launching three round trippers. He has barreled a 10 doubles and two triples as well. He started at either the catcher or designated hitter position in the final 10 games and notched a .441 batting average (15-for-34) that included six doubles, two bombs and 17 RBI.

Coleman, who has held down the top spot in the lineup all season, paces his squad in hits with 46 while swiping a team-high 23 bags which ranks 10th in the state. Sophomore left fielder Joseph Hodapp has barreled 39 hits leading to an even .300 batting average, while sophomore sure-handed shortstop Matthew Happ follows with 38 hits leading to a .275 batting average and a .392 on-base percentage.

On the pitching front, Irvin has been the teams ace on the bump throughout the entire season. He has started in 13 games and earned an overall record of 9-2. He has fanned a team-high 92 batters leading to a 10.37 strikeouts-per-game while only issuing 16 walks in 79 innings pitched.

Sophomore Alexander Salazar has been equally as dominant despite his 5-3 win-loss record is not very attractive. He has produced a lowly 1.66 ERA leading to 80 punch outs in 70 innings pitched. In 11 starts, he has not allowed more than four earned runs. Sophomore closer Lawrence Castaneda has been downright filthy leading to eight saves ranking tied for third in the state. In 55.1 innings pitched in 24 appearances, he has fanned 54 batters and walked just 15.

Be sure to follow live stats on for game one on Friday, May 3 at 2 p.m.