Oxy Baseball Comes Out Swingin’

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Author: Dean DeChiaro

Not until Feb. 20 will it really matter that the Oxy boys of summer are playing some of their best baseball in years, when they open their conference season against the Bulldogs at the University of Redlands.

Until then, the Tiger’s dominance over each opponent thus far in the pre-season shows only a forecast of fair skies for this season. After six games, three each against La Sierra University and Whitman college, the Tigers are 5-1 while outscoring their opponents 85-43. This includes a massacre last Sunday against Whitman, when they won 28-3.

The Tigers are definitely taking note of their own successes, but are doing their best to stay grounded as the conference games creep closer.

“I think our success against La Sierra is a demonstration of what we have the ability to do,” pitcher Matthew Jones (senior) said. “It’s a long season though, 40 games, so anything is possible. I think we have room for improvement, but I am very pleased with our first games.”

Jones recorded his first win of the year in the season opener against La Sierra, in which he pitched five innings, giving up two earned runs on five hits with one strikeout.The La Sierra series was definitely the more exciting of the two, especially because in all three games the Tigers came from behind to record the wins.

“In every game vs. La Sierra, we had to come back after being down, and when we did that it gave us a sense of our character and heart in how we will always play our hardest until the final out,” outfielder Glenn Gray (junior) said.

Gray also cited his belief that the team’s will is stronger this year. “In previous years, if we were put in a similar situation [as we were against La Sierra], we would often roll over and give in, but by those three wins, we gave ourselves an idea on how good we can be and how hard we can play in every game we play this year,” he said.

The Whitman series, however, was certainly not just three run-of-the-mill baseball games. Over the course of the three games, the Tigers hit five home runs, including two grand slams by third baseman Richie Veihl (senior) in the third game. He hit another long ball that game, joining teammates Jason Jebbia (junior), Anthony Salsedo (first-year) as Tigers who homered during the series.

Given the team’s success so far, things are looking good as Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference match-ups approach, and the team are hopeful that things will turn out better than they have in years past.

Last season the team finished 15-24 (7-14 in SCIAC) and in 2007 they finished 17-23 (7-14 in SCIAC). However, with a refurbished Anderson Field to play on and a new coach, Jason Hawkins, things seem to be looking up for the team.

“I am excited to show the other teams in SCIAC how far we have come in the course of one year and how much we have improved,” Gray said. “This is by far the hardest working bunch of guys I have ever played with.”

Pitcher Nick Smallman (sophomore) reiterated this statement, saying, “I’m excited to watch us compete. It will be fun to see where our hard work will take us.”

Though Coach Hawkins declined to comment on the season so far, he has to be happy with what he’s seen so far from his players, and no doubt hopes that what is becoming a powerhouse offense and dominant pitching staff continue to dominate opponents once SCIAC season rolls around.

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