Torero baseball finally getting the swing of things

After a shaky start, the Toreros have won nine of their last 11 games and are looking to regain a spot in the national rankings.

By Hunter Jameson

The Toreros had a busy week, playing six important games in as many days. The Toreros started the week with their biggest win of the season against their toughest competition so far, the Cal State Fullerton Titans. The Titans came in ranked No. 10 in the country according to many polls. Junior third baseman Kris Bryant got it started with a two run home run to left field that landed on Manchester Field. It seemed like déjà vu in the sixth inning when Bryant hit another two run home run to left field.

The Toreros used this as momentum and never let up, finishing off the Titans with a 7-3 win.  Sophomore Max Homick entered the game in the fourth inning in relief of freshman starter PJ Conlon. Homick earned the victory for the Toreros and freshman JD Davis received the loss for the Titans.

Next, The Toreros faced off against the Seton Hall University Pirates on March 6. Junior Max McNabb was on the mound for the Toreros and engaged in a pitcher’s duel with the Pirate’s freshman pitcher Sam Burum. The game was decided in the sixth inning when Bryant hit his seventh home run of the year. This one happened to be a two run shot which put the Toreros in the lead for good.

McNabb earned the win, giving up only one run in three and one third innings. Junior Dylan Covey picked up his first career save after shutting down the Pirates in the ninth inning.

The Torero pitching staff had a combined 12 strikeouts, completely dominating Pirate hitters all game. The Toreros won by a score of 2-1. Being able to win close games, such as this one against the Pirates, is crucial for the Toreros to have a good record.

The USD Tournament started on March 7 as the Toreros faced the Saint Louis University Billikens. The Billikens got the bats going late in the game, as their big hits came in the sixth and eighth innings. Junior first baseman Mike Vigliarolo had a clutch triple in the eighth for the Billikens and ended the game with two hits and two RBIs.

Junior pitcher Michael Wagner started at pitcher for the Toreros, but it was redshirt freshman Wes Judish who received the loss. Redshirt senior Alex Alemann went a strong seven innings for the Billikens and was rewarded with the win. Bryant added another home run to his tally and Haupt added three hits to his team high of 24 on the season. The final score was 6-3 in favor of the Billikens.

Luckily, the Toreros would get a chance at redemption on Friday, as they had another game against the Billikens. This was a completely different outcome because the Torero offense came alive. The offense produced two runs in the third inning, two runs in the fifth and three runs in the eighth, enough to earn Conlon the victory. Bryant hit his eighth home run of the season and Junior outfielder Louie Lechich had four hits and two RBIs. The Billikens’ junior starter Clay Smith was credited with the loss after a rough outing. The final score was 11-3 in favor of the Toreros.

The Toreros absolutely dominated their game on Saturday against the Holy Cross Crusaders. Lechich started for the Toreros and pitched five innings while only giving up one run on two hits. The Torero offense racked up a total of 17 runs on the day in support of Lechich’s pitching effort. Haupt tallied four RBIs and scored four runs scored on three hits. Lechich helped himself out by producing four hits, three RBIs and two runs scored. Junior Tom Marra was credited with the loss for the Crusaders, but he was not the only Crusader pitcher who struggled in this game. This game proved that when the Torero bats get hot, they are a tough team to beat.

The final game of the USD Tournament was between the Toreros and the University of Michigan Wolverines on March 10. McNabb started on the mound for the Toreros and was very productive over four and two thirds innings, giving up just one run. The game was close until the eighth inning  when the Wolverines’ bats started to rally. Freshman shortstop Travis Maezes doubled down the left field line, driving in two runs for the Wolverines. Senior AJ Robinson entered the game as a pinch hitter and had the only two RBIs of the game for the Toreros. Sophomore Matt Ogden earned the win for the Wolverines and senior Trevor Bayless took the loss for the Toreros. The final score was 5-2.

The Toreros really got the ball rolling this week, winning four out of six games, improving their overall record to 11-6.  They have won nine out of their last 11 games heading into West Coast Conference play. They start conference play by hosting BYU at Fowler Park in a three game series starting March 14.