By Jesus Coronel
Matthew Bardowell’s journey in the baseball world has been a great spectacle to see so far. He has been one of the key pieces to the Riverside City College baseball team’s success in his two years with the Tigers and he’s only getting better.
“It was great being with him,” sophomore infielder Adrian Arechiga said. “Day in and day out, he works really seriously. His success really shows on the field.”
Bardowell came into the program in 2022 and it did not take long for him to be one of the main reasons the Tigers finished with a 38-12 record in the regular season.
He batted for an average of .436 and led the team with 63 RBIs and eight home runs. He was a big reason why RCC won its first state championship since 2008.
Heading into 2023, Bardowell was expected to take the next step in his game and lead the Tigers to more success, but injuries riddled his performances and he lacked consistency.
“He had a forearm contusion when he collided with a fence during the East LA series,” head coach Rudy Arguelles said. “Then came a soft tissue injury that affected his hamstring after the Southwestern game so he was never fully healthy, which was frustrating.”
Bardowell’s stats dipped when the injuries happened. His batting average fell to .360 and he only had 31 RBIs this season, which had an impact heading into the playoffs.
The Tigers managed a 28-13 record, but they had lost six of their last eight games to close the season and Bardowell was held in check during the losing streak.
Ultimately, a team that had championship aspirations was quickly swept by Grossmont College when RCC lost the series 2-0 to end the season.
Bardowell was a non-factor throughout the series, only registering one hit in two games.
“He was never fully healthy,” Arguelles said. “He was trying to find his rhythm and (get his) consistency back. People look at his numbers and think he’s doing fine, but it was a frustrating season for him.”
Bardowell is transferring to California State University Fullerton for the 2024 season while continuing his journey to Major League Baseball.
“My experience playing for RCC was life changing,” he said. “I’m leaving with an idea of the type of baseball player and man I want to be.”
Staff and teammates are looking forward to seeing what Bardowell can do with Fullerton.
“I know he will work hard over there,” Arechiga said. “He understands the game, what it takes and who he is as a player.”