By Angel Peña
1. How have they done
Riverside City College men’s baseball team has gone 13-4 as it hits the midway point of the 2018-2019 season.
In the 2017-2018 season the team went 27-17 overall and by the midway point of that season the team had amassed a similar record of 14-4, which shows consistency in the teams overall success so far.
At the conclusion of last season, RCC made it to the second round of the California Community College Athletic Associations before losing to Orange Coast College in back to back games. The last championship won by the Tigers occurred in 2007 when RCC brought home the CCCAA state championship title under former longtime head coach Denis Rogers.
“We’re getting better,” head coach Rudy Arguelles said. “Everyday is still an opportunity to create that identity that they are trying to establish but there’s been progress and improvement each and everyday and that all we can ask for.”
2. How are they doing
“We have a way different mentality and make-up with this club,” Arguelles said. “They’ve put themselves in a position to compete on a consistent basis.”
The Tigers have been able to keep a winning record of 13-4 as every time the team has lost a game, they’ve bounced back to win two or more games in a row. RCC has otherwise been on a roll with a six game win streak going into the mid-season.
Sophomore pitcher Alexander Salazar has contributed to this win streak by having the most strikeouts by any pitcher on the team.
“My biggest influence is coach Dave, he taught me the mechanics of pitching,” Salazar said.
Success on the mound isn’t the only factor to the team’s record. Freshman Mathew Ivancich has been a major influence in the team’s progress by leading the team in RBIs.
“I want to be the best that I can be,” Ivancich said “I want to be a team player.”
3. How will they do
The Tigers are on track to complete another successful season should they present a strong showing in their upcoming string of games against a multitude of Orange Empire Conference teams that include Saddleback College, Irvine Valley College and Cypress College.
“We don’t like to look in the past we like to stay in the moment,” Arguelles said. “Our full expectations are that we will be participating and competing in season number three which is what we reference to playoff time.”
The Tigers are projected to beat last year’s season record if they keep this momentum going.
“I think we’ll do good, we strive off our pitching,” Ivancich said. “Our defense is pretty good and our hitting is coming around.”
In the second half of the season the Tigers will face off against divisional rivals from the OEC.
“That’s why we set up our schedule the way we do, tough non-conference early season schedule,” Arguelles said.
4. Atmosphere in the dugout
The atmosphere in the dugout has a lot to do in part with the mentality of the players and Arguelles.
“There’s a brand new set of bodies and mind sets,” Arguelles said. “Which is what this level brings each and every year, some more extreme than others but this year was a really extreme turn over.”
With only eight veteran players returning to the diamond, it would be easy to assume that the team would go through a rebuilding stage. However, their record says something different.
“We”re trying to achieve something great,” Ivancich said. “We all want the same thing.”
“We’re getting better,” Arguelles said. “Everyday is still an opportunity to create that identity that they are trying to establish but there’s been progress and improvement each and everyday and that all we can ask for.”
5. Game changers
Currently leading the team in overall batting average (with more than 20 chances at bat) with a .359 is freshman catcher Angel Mendoza. Sophomore outfielder Ulises Caballero leads the team in runs batted in at 15 alongside Ivancich. Ivancich himself ranks third in batting average with .309 and third in hits overall this season with 17.
“It’s a way different than high school,” Ivancich said. “It’s like high school was just high school and in college it’s like we’re a team. We’re trying to achieve something great, we all want the same thing.”
Leading the charge for the Tigers pitching is Alexander Salazar who leads the team in strikeouts at 38, as well as the second highest strikeout average per nine innings with just over 11.
“There’s a different mindset,” Salazar said. “Everyone’s more focused, everyone wants to get better at practice and we all want to get better, each and every day.”