USD baseball continues to succeed

The University of San Diego baseball team had a three game series against the Brigham Young Cougars over the weekend of March 20-22.

The first game was on Thursday, with the Toreros winning by a score of 6-3. Saturday’s game was a nail biter with the Cougars squeaking out a victory in 10 innings, 9-8.

On Sunday, the final game of the series, the Cougars’ bats just exploded, scoring six runs in both the second and seventh innings.

After the series ended, The USD Vista caught up with head coach Rich Hill to talk about the upcoming season.

Before the series started, the Toreros were No. 19 in the national rankings. Even though the Toreros were ranked, Coach Hill believed the players’ mindsets would not be changed.

Head coach Rich Hill, utility man Jay Schuyler (18), and members of the Torero coaching staff. Photo courtesy of USD Toreros.

“Our players look at the rankings and just shrug their shoulders,” Hill said. “They see that we are ranked, but that only makes them want to work harder, so we can just keep on climbing those rankings, and [put] this team on the national map.”

The Toreros compete in the West Coast Conference (WCC) but Coach Hill believes that the top teams in this conference can play with anyone in the country.

Hill said he understands that the WCC is labeled as weaker compared to the Power 5 conferences, but he knows this conference and its toughness.

“Every single game we go out and play, we know that we are going to get [the team’s] best effort,” Hill said. “When you go up against one of the best teams in your conference, you want to show them who’s boss. I know our conference is labeled as weaker, or people look down on us when they see us in the rankings, but I truly believe that teams from this conference can compete with anyone in the nation.”

One of our alumni has made a pretty big mark on his sport, and his immediate MLB success has helped change the perception of the USD program entirely. Kris Bryant, a former Torero, is making huge waves already in his short tenure in the MLB.

He started by winning the 2015 National League Rookie of the Year, and last year he took home NL Most Valuable Player honors and a World Series ring to put the cherry on top of a remarkable year. Hill said that even though Bryant is being recognized as one of the greatest athletes in the world, he has not forgotten where he came from.

“Kris Bryant has been a tremendous representation of our school,” Hill said. “With him winning MVP, it has been tremendous for our recruiting. How could it not look good when one of your former players takes home one of the most prestigious awards in the sport?”

In addition, Hill mentioned that the superstar’s character has remained intact.

“[Bryant] is one of the most generous people I know, he has continuously given back to this place,” Hill said. “The MLB could not have gotten a nicer guy to represent their league and our school to the very best ability.”

Preseason All-American Riley Adams launches a long home run against Portland. Photo courtesy of USD Toreros

Despite having preseason All-American catcher Riley Adams on the team, Coach Hill believes that having a player of that caliber only makes the other players want to try that much harder.

“Even though [Adams] has all these accolades, it makes our team want to play that much harder,” Hill said. “They want our team to get those accolades too. We want to put this team on the map.”

The farthest a USD team has ever advanced is the first round of the Regionals in the NCAA Baseball Tournament, yet Coach Hill shared that this team can go the distance.

“This team can go places,” Hill said. “The top end of our starting rotation can give us a chance against anyone in the country, and our offense is incredibly dynamic. Yes, this team can go up against and beat any team in the country.”

Our Toreros are near the top of the conference already and have won the conference in 11 of the past 12 years. This year could make it 12 out of 13, and our Toreros, just like the football team, could create a different path for all of our athletics to be measured against.

Written by Jake Ellis, Contributor