By Christian Ulrich, Jan. 24, 2023

On Feb. 3, 2023, the Cal Poly Pomona baseball team will take the field for opening night against the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs, a night which the Broncos hope will be the beginning of a historic run.

Falling short in the NCAA Division II West Regional after building a 35-19 record, the Broncos feel that this year will be different. This year, they have the experience and all the necessary parts that make up a winning baseball club.

“We are winning this year — there is no doubt in my mind,” said catcher Jacob Lopez. “No matter what happens through turmoil and whatever the year throws at us, I truly believe we are winning this thing.”

Courtesy of CPP Athletics

Second year associate head coach Jenzen Torres knows what it takes to take a team far into the playoffs, having been with the teams in 2015 and 2016 that won the NCAA West Region Championship.

“The environment that freshmen are stepping into is significantly different than high school baseball, that every aspect of the game will be faster than what they are used to,” said Torres. “Keeping calm, trusting the process and remaining positive will help integrate them into this next level of competition.”

The nine freshmen on the roster this spring enter an environment that is challenging yet catered to them, an atmosphere where they can thrive with hard work and perseverance.

Lopez spoke fondly of his experience last year with the team.

“Last year was my freshman year, and it was awesome to be a part of a team that was inclusive from top to bottom with guys that were in graduate programs making the effort to come and talk to me,” said Lopez.

Lopez mentioned that the team tries to get together as much as they can after class and off the field. Lopez was adamant that these relationships are vital for the team’s chemistry and culture.

Torres believes that the team’s struggles early on last year will help push them to greater heights this season.

“Our coaching staff and players understood that at the beginning of last year we weren’t necessarily playing bad baseball,” said Torres. “We just needed to tighten some things up, stay with it and continue to play our brand of baseball and the success will come,” said Torres.

Torres added that the coaching staff sat down and thought about what they could do better to get the results that they are looking for. From this point, the team became closer and started holding themselves accountable, Torres said.

One thing the Broncos have this season is experience. Catcher Johnny Pappas is no stranger to leading his squad over the course of a long season.

“I care about each and every one of these guys, and I want everyone to feel like I care about them,” said Pappas. “Last year I had Ryon Knowles and Cesar Lopez — guys that had been here for years — and they helped me understand what it is to be a leader, helped me take guys like Jacob Lopez and Tyler Chaffee under my wing this year and be that guy for them.”

Pappas added that the team wants to hit the ground running, win regular season and keep things going through the playoffs. He believes this year they have a good chance to do just that.

Pappas and the Broncos have just one game circled on their calendar: opening night against the Mountain Lions.

On Feb. 3, 5 p.m. at Scolinos Field, the Broncos’ journey for eternal glory begins once again. For more information, visit the Bronco Athletics website.

Feature image courtesy of CPP Athletics

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