The Cal Poly Pomona men’s baseball team begins its pursuit of another California Collegiate Athletic Association’s (CCAA) tournament championship on Friday with the season opener against the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs at Scolinos Field.
The home opener marks head coach Randy Betten’s 10th season as the Broncos’ skipper. “When I first started off, I wanted to establish myself as a winning program,” Betten said. “Not that we haven’t established that, we have, we have won a lot of games, been to some championships and we’ve won some championships. But I think it is now about the personal growth of these guys. You just want to see them grow and have careers, if not in the game, then academically.”
Betten’s last nine seasons have resulted in a record of 307-192, with a winning percentage of .615.
In his tenure with the Broncos, Betten has led his teams to six consecutive (2014-2019) National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division II Championship Tournament appearances (2014-2019), and has won in back-to-back seasons (2015 and 2016).
The upcoming season will begin with several new faces on the roster. “(There are) 17 new players this year, so half the roster is completely new,” Betten said. “I think that was good for us, in a sense, so we could go back to the fundamentals again. Our high school athletes we can kind of mold along the way.”
The Broncos were voted by the league’s coaches in the annual preseason poll to finish third overall in the CCAA for 2020.
Last season, the Broncos found themselves sitting below .500 with a record of 13-16 at the halfway point of the season.
With a quick turnaround, the Broncos found themselves in a position to make another CCAA Championship tournament run.
The Broncos claimed a 2019 CCAA tournament bid on senior day, the last game of the regular season, against Cal State San Marcos. The team defeated UC San Diego 3-2 and Chico State 17-4.
The team went on to defeat Cal State Monterey Bay in a three-game series for the 2019 CCAA championship.
The Broncos were eliminated in the NCAA Division II West Regional against Azusa Pacific University and capped off a 30-28 overall season.
The Broncos’ earned run average of 5.44 ranked the team seventh overall in CCAA rankings, and their batting average of .283 ranked them sixth overall.
Freshman pitcher Rhys Stevens joins the team from Capistrano Valley High School with his fastball topping out at 92 mph. Stevens described the team’s chemistry as “amazing,” and the coaching staff has provided new knowledge of the game to him.
“I was definitely nervous coming into this, coming into a completely new environment with new guys and a lot of older guys, and they just welcomed us all with open arms. Some of the guys we brought in are also seniors or upper classmen and they’ve taken up big leadership roles for us,” Stevens said. “And it’s been really fun to be with them; it’s just such a great environment, everyone is so respectful, there’s no negativity. It’s all positivity.”
Returning junior infielder Drew Cowley will begin his third season as a Bronco. Cowley stressed the importance of each game during the season. “Every single series matters, that’s the biggest thing and you can’t overlook anybody,” Cowley said.
Cowley also noted that the team has set out to ensure it will clinch a playoff spot and not leave it up to one game like previous years. Both Stevens and Cowley emphasized the same goal for the 2020 season: winning a national championship.
The home opener will debut the Broncos’ new and improved Scolinos Field, which was recently renovated and completed in the fall. Upgrades to the field include new grandstand seating for fans, Tifway 419 Bermuda grass, pro-style safety netting and a turf Bronco logo behind home plate.
“With the new field and some of the upgrades we have out there, I think it has been really easy to make the transition to guys feeling more comfortable playing out there,” Betten said.
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