Riverside baseball struggles throughout season

Archive/HIGHLANDER

The Preseason Big West Coaches Poll suggested that the Highlanders would finish in fifth place in their division. The team, however, expected to finish even higher in the standings and possibly be in the hunt for the NCAA Regional Baseball Tournament in Eugene, Oregon.

The team ultimately fell short of their expectations. Riverside had just four players with 10 or more multi-hit games. Last year, Riverside had 24 double-digit hit games, going 16-7. This year they had 17 double-digit hit games and went 14-3 in those games. They were not able to get their bats rolling and drive in runs. Riverside struck out 10 or more times in 15 games, resulting in a record of 5-10. This is something they hadn’t done since the 2008 season.

The standout moment for the season for the Highlanders was when they defeated Big West powerhouse #8 CSU Fullerton in a three game series. After losing the first game of the series, the Highlanders rallied to take games two and three to win the series.

UCR had two outstanding Highlanders that shined for the team and will be missed next season. For the second year in a row, Eddie Orozco was named to the All-Conference Honorable Mention Team. The starting pitcher has crucially improved since his 2009 and 2010 seasons. Orozco appeared 14 times for Riverside and started all of them for the first time in his UCR career. On March 10, Orozco tied the team’s Division I era record by striking out 15 batters in a complete-game, three-hit, 1-0 victory over Sacramento State. Orozco is currently ranked tenth in the Big West with a 2.84 ERA, and second in the conference in strikeouts with 106.

Since transferring, infielder Vince Gonzalez has helped out the team greatly. He may not have started as much in the 2011 season but this year he started 53 out of 54 games. Gonzalez proved his excellence when he posted a batting average of .351 and was named the All-Conference Second Team. Gonzalez led the team in batting average, slugging percentage, doubles and RBIs. From April 18 to May 19 of this season, Gonzalez hit in 19 consecutive games—the second longest hitting streak in the Division I history of the program.

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