Baseball continues strong season campaign

The Cougars continued their strong season after winning another series and matching one of their strongest starts in school history.

The team is currently ranked ninth nationally, and after their most recent 12-2 win over Academy of Art, the Cougars wield a 26-4 overall record. This record is currently tied for their best 30-game start in program history since the 2001 and 2007 seasons.

The Cougars continue to remain in first place of the PacWest conference, with a 13-3 league record. Their strong performance has many of the players feeling confident of the team.

“We feel a lot more confident in our abilities and believe that we can compete with any team, regardless of what their record is,” senior outfielder Cam Bennett said. “I think we’re in a good spot now because we’ve already played 30 games and have worked out the kinks, so we’re ready to play hard every game, no matter who we play against.”

Bennett scored three runs and one RBI in the final game against the Academy of Art.

However, the series against the Academy of Art wasn’t perfect. The Cougars lost one of their four games in the series to the Urban Knights on March 31. The loss broke a nine-game winning streak.

“We definitely came out focused and ready to play. Unfortunately, the one loss we had just didn’t go our way,” junior outfielder and second baseman Pablo O’Connor said. “We hit well, pitched well, and balls just weren’t falling for us, but it’s baseball and it happens.”

Both O’Connor and junior third basemen Adrian Tovalin touched home plate once for a solo score and added two RBI’s each on the day against the Knights. Sophomore catcher Justin Gomez led the team on the evening with two runs scored and four RBI’s.

Head coach Paul Svagdis was proud of his team’s effort and hard work this past weekend. After their one loss, he admitted that he wasn’t concerned because he knew how focused and determined his players were.

“Our guys did a good job in staying focused, staying disciplined and well-coached. I was really proud of the way they handled themselves this weekend,” Svagdis said. “All of the guys were pretty locked in mentally, and it was one of the first weekends that we did that for four-straight games, so I was pretty happy with that.”

The Cougars were terrific offensively against the Knights, and the team had a strong performance on defense as well. After two runs were given up early, junior pitcher Layne Henderson came in at relief, where he would play for the majority of the game (5.2 innings), recording seven strikeouts and earning the win.

After the series win however, the Cougars are making sure that they continue to play aggressively as the season progresses. They are cautious not to get too comfortable with where they are.

“It’s easy to sit back and think of our record, but the reality is that it’s harder to win four [game-series],” O’Connor said. “We just need to come out every day like it’s the last day of the season, like we’re fighting against the best team in the country, and we got to go get one game at a time.”

For the entire season, the message that has been preached within the bullpen is to take one game at a time, and to only focus on the next opponent. With only 20 games left in the regular season, the Cougars are looking to avoid all distractions, with a philosophy that has worked all year.

“We’re just taking it a game at a time and trying to get as many wins as possible,” Bennett said. “Hopefully, we put ourselves in a good position for playoffs, to make it all the way, and get that PacWest ring as well.”

The Cougars will take on Hawaii Pacific at home in a four-game series from April 6-8, which will be followed by a series against Cal Baptist on April 13-15.

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