By Dylan King
Brody Weiss and Zach Grande displayed toughness and grit in leading Riverside City College to a close victory against Orange Coast College, 3-2, at the Evans Sports Complex on April 19.
Though Weiss, a sophomore, did not have the electrifying and efficient game he had against Fullerton on April 16, he still managed to leave his stamp on the game by stealing two bases that led to a score by teammate Michael Darr, tying the game at two after three innings.
Weiss said it is his duty to play hard and perform, even when the odds may be stacked against him. His ability to confront pressure situations is what has established his role as a team leader this season.
“Yeah, being here last year playing shortstop, (which) is kind of a leader position,” Weiss said when asked if he considered himself a leader on the team. “I think being around the culture here for the past year, it’s important for me to spread that (leadership) among the team.”
RCC played through tough calls and warm weather to bring their overall record to 18-13 and improved their record in the Orange Empire Conference to 6-10.
While sophomore pitcher Angel Delgado brought his record to 6-2 this season, helping to hold Orange Coast scoreless for six innings, including a timely defensive double play made in the outfield by freshmen Garrett McKee and Ryan Mota in the third.
The influence of leadership has galvanized coaches and players to be more productive on the field, something that Grande attributes to his recent success.
After hitting his first homerun of the season against Fullerton, he followed it with a hard single to the right field in the seventh inning, leading to a score by sophomore Casey Sheehan that gave RCC the lead for good.
“It’s a fun opportunity,” Grande said of his game changing play. “I always dreamed of being like a big leaguer you know, (even when) I struggle throughout a game. 0-3 with three (strikeouts), which I had, then I go up (to bat) and I’m not phased. That’s what I was trying to do, (use) the same approach I’ve had all year, and just swing the bat.”
Head coach Rudy Arguelles uses his energetic personality to raise the games of his players, which has translated into immediate success recently.
“At the onset of the season, we really established and recognized what our identity was and what type of club we were going to be,” Arguelles said. “We knew right from the beginning that these were the type of games we were going to be involved in.”
Having a determined and talented stalwart like Weiss at RCC lends credence to the ethos of hard work and execution that the coaching staff implores the team to apply each game.
“He’s grown tremendously as a person and as a ballplayer,” Arguelles said of Weiss’ development. “He’s not real vocal, but he shows up every day ready to perform. He’s going to make plenty of big plays in big situations.”
Having the ability to grind out close games is something the Tigers want to hang their collective hat on, and winning three out of the last four games has fueled the confidence of the entire team.
The expectation is an extended state playoff run for RCC as they build momentum for a big push.
“We have five ballgames left, we’re in the thick of things, and we control our own destiny, which is nice,” Arguelles said. “Really, where we are at this point in time, we just want to get in the playoffs and see what kind of havoc we can create.”