Last weekend, the UC Santa Cruz club baseball team traveled to Mesquite, Nevada with only 16 of its 22 players, the rest unable to go due to travel costs. The team dropped all four games against teams from the Northern Pacific-South Conference in the Swing into Spring tournament.
“Our biggest issue was running out of pitchers,” said team president and starting right-handed pitcher Nick Settevendemie. “During our third game against the University of Wyoming, our pitcher Eduardo De Haro led us through by throwing 120 pitches even though our fielding wasn’t up to par enough to get him the outs he needed. He was a standout player for the tournament for our team.”
Prior to last weekend’s tournament, the Slugs (1-9) played a tough season-opening series against intraleague opponent Stanford as the Cardinals swept the Slugs, winning all three games 13-5, 7-3 and 8-6.
“We should have won the last game,” Settevendemie said. “We had bases loaded with two outs and the kid who was up to bat had a full count and was battling. He fouled off five pitches in a row but struck out.”
As the season continues, the team will look to senior catcher and head coach Tyler Brownell to lead them through the season.
“It’s tough coaching, it’s a lot of responsibility,” Brownell said. “It’s tough trying to manage the game while playing. It’s a lot of communication between our president and myself and a lot of chaos. I’m always thinking two or three innings ahead. It’s like a big chess game.”
With the reopening of the upper field last month, the team now practices on the diamonds, but the closure affected its preseason practice schedule. The team is trying to catch up after having limited practice opportunities prior to the field’s reopening on Feb. 23.
“It has been a struggle this year because the field hasn’t been open, at the beginning of the year we played at Harvey West until it closed, and for about a month we had nowhere to practice. We have been playing on the lower field, but we aren’t allowed to hit because of the size and it being next to the parking lot,” Settevendemie said.
The Slugs will play a three-game series against each of the five teams in their conference — one of the most competitive in the nation with teams like UCLA and Cal Poly SLO, which are consistently ranked highly in national polls.
The team plays its home games off campus at Harvey West Field but with an extended road schedule, the team’s next home game is not until April 4 when it will take on Cal Poly SLO.
“Generally our home games, on Saturday nights, are our most important games,” senior catcher and head coach Brownell said. “It’s a really great atmosphere under the lights and we have on average 60 to 70 people come out. It’s a good time.”
The Slugs hope to make the playoffs this year, but with only one team allowed from each conference, they will need to win the Southern Pacific-West championship to do it.