By Sierra Trujillo
After reaching the NCAA Division II West Region Tournament as the No. 4 seed, the Cal Poly Pomona baseball team lost its first two games and was eliminated from title contention. The Broncos fell to the Cal Baptist Lancers, 5-3, on Thursday and the UC San Diego Tritons, 20-5, on Friday.
On Thursday, the Broncos started off hot, scoring all three runs in the first inning. However, the Lancers came back with two in the first and one in the fifth and capped it off with one in the eighth to hand the Broncos their first loss of the tournament.
Facing elimination on Friday, the Broncos were down four runs before getting their first at-bats. The Tritons added seven more runs in the third, but the Broncos finally got on the board in the bottom of the inning, with an RBI sacrifice fly from senior outfielder Chris Carlson and a solo homerun from senior outfielder David Armendariz, his 10th of the season.
However, the Tritons continued to add on to their total with four runs in the fourth, two in the seventh and one in the eighth. The Broncos tried to soften the blow a bit in the bottom of the eighth and scored three runs on a two RBI double from Armendariz and an RBI single from senior outfielder Joseph Eusebio.
Despite the Broncos late-inning efforts, the Tritons added two runs in the ninth and the game ended with a brutal score of 20-5.
Head coach Randy Betten, although upset about the loss, understood that this type of game happens sometimes in baseball.
“Obviously that’s not how we wanted that game to finish, it’s not how we scripted it,” said Betten. “I thought, overall, it was a great season. We have a lot of good memories in there.”
While the season may have not have ended how the Broncos wanted it to, they still have much to be proud of regarding the season as a whole. This is the first season since 2011 that CPP has made it to the West Region Tournament; the second time under Betten as head coach. The team also posted a winning percentage of .653 on the season, the highest since 1983.
“I think the Cal Poly Pomona program has moved forward again and that’s the greatest thing you can say,” said Betten. “When I came here, they were kind of a laughing stock program. The culture has now changed. People are going to know when we show up, we’re going to compete against you well all weekend.”
A number of Broncos as individual players stood out in the league as well. Armendariz, who went 3-4 with two doubles and a homerun in Friday’s game, was not only named the CCAA Player of the Year but also the West Region Player of the Year. He also leads the CCAA in homeruns with 10 and RBIs with 56.
“It was really cool to receive that award,” said Armendariz. “I wouldn’t have been able to do it without the guys around me. I had a lot of protection in the line-up, especially hitting second.”
Eusebio leads the CCAA in batting average, with a .377 and freshman infielder Steven Andrade earned the title of Freshman of the Year in the CCAA. Junior pitcher J.J. Franklin set a school record of eight saves in a single season.
Friday’s game marked the last time that 10 seniors would play on a college baseball field. The seniors were a big part of the team’s success throughout the season, and Betten wishes that he could keep them all longer.
“It was really important to have a fun senior year for me,” said Armendariz. “When I connected with coach Betten and the coaching staff here, I knew I’d be in a good position to have fun. They built me up a lot and gave me a lot of opportunities to succeed.”
The Bronco baseball team will now take a much-needed vacation and will come back next year looking to continue its success.
CPP falls in West Region
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