Baseball team opens 2012 season Friday

By Karina Lopez

Last season, the Cal Poly Pomona baseball team exceeded
everyone’s expectations, except maybe its own.

Incoming Head Coach Randy Betten had the task of turning around
a CPP team that failed to advance to the conference tournament and
finished the 2010 campaign under .500.

In 2011, Betten and the Broncos not only advanced to the
conference tournament, but to the West Region tournament as
well.

Despite losing to Sonoma State 8-5 in the West Region
championship game, the Broncos and their first-year head coach put
CPP baseball back on the map.

This season, the Broncos enter the 2012 campaign with a No.1
West Region rank and are picked to finish fourth in the CCAA.

“The preseason polls don’t really matter, but it is nice that we
are getting recognized,” said senior shortstop Mike Santora. “Last
season ended pretty well for us and it put us on the map. So this
season we have to go out there and defend [the No.1 West Region

rank] and have the responsibility to live up to it.”

Despite an influx of new players this season, Santora said the
team is “adjusting smoothly.”

“We have a lot of good leadership on the team this year,” said
Santora “We set the foundation on how the program is run, so
hopefully [the new players] adapt early on.”

Even though CPP lost last year’s homerun leader, Travis
Taijeron, the Broncos are confident they have more than enough pop
left in their lineup to prove last season’s title run was no
fluke.

“You can’t replace Travis Taijeron, but our coaches have done a
good job recruiting players to fill that role,” said senior catcher
Jenzen Torres. “We have a good dynamic this season and a deep bench
so we’re excited to see what this team can do.”

Last season, Santora and Torres both played a large part in the
Broncos’ lineup.

Santora hit safely in 23 games while Torres recorded five home
runs and drove in 45.

This season, both Torres and Santora are expecting a lot from
themselves as well as their teammates.

“I expect us to go out there every day and compete and work
hard, no matter what,” said Santora. “Hopefully that will put us in
a good position to win some games and compete at the highest
level.”

Joining Santora and Torres in the lineup is one of the Broncos’
strongest hitters, junior right fielder Jordan Whitman.

Last season, Whitman finished the season with a .332 batting
average, 75 hits and 42 RBIs.

Torres said he believed this year’s team was “fundamentally
sound” in nearly every aspect of the game.

With Torres behind the plate and Santora, a 2011 ABCA Golden
Glove recipient, returning to shortstop, the Broncos boast a
powerful infield.

Also returning to the infield are Humberto Tovalin and Chris
Miller, last season’s third and first respective baseman.

Torres, the team’s starting catcher, also gave insight to this
year’s pitching staff.

“Most of the pitching staff is returning from last season, so
there is a lot of experience in that department,” said Torres. “The
bullpen is also pretty deep too, so we’re covered in that
department.”

Torres admitted that with the help of Assistant Coach Bret
Lachemann, he and the pitchers have built a solid relationship.

“It’s a collective effort, from the coaches to the pitchers to
me,” said Torres. “Sometimes I get to call the pitches, it just
depends on certain situations. [The pitchers] have to trust that if
a two-strike breaking ball is called, I’ll be there to block or

catch the pitch.”

Returning from last season’s pitching staff is junior
right-hander Kevin Bosson.

“I definitely embrace it and enjoy the responsibility of being
one of the starting pitchers,” said Bosson. “It makes me work
harder because I know that I have a job to do when I get on the
mound.”

As a sophomore last season, Bosson finished with a record of
10-5, an ERA of 3.83 and recorded 74 strikeouts.

“We just have to do more than we did last year,” said Bosson.
“We can’t just be happy that we made it to the West Region
tournament. We want to get to the College World Series so we have
to play at a higher level.”

Also joining Bosson in the starting rotation is junior
right-hander Erick Ruvalcaba.

Last season, Ruvalcaba finished the 2011 seasonwith an ERA of
3.34 and a 5-3 record.

The Broncos open the 2012 season on Friday at 2 p.m. when they
host Saint Martin’s in a four-game series at Scolinos Field.

Jordan Whitman

Gloria Gonzalez / The Poly Post

Jordan Whitman

Jenzen Torres & Mike Santora

Gloria Gonzalez / The Poly Post

Jenzen Torres & Mike Santora

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