No. 3 Riverside and No. 11 Cypress Clash in Super Regionals Starting Friday

Photos by Bobby R. Hester
Photos by Bobby R. Hester

For the third-consecutive playing season, the Riverside City College baseball team has advanced to the second round of the California Community College Athletic Association (CCCAA) Southern Regional playoffs. They will face off against the Cypress College Chargers for the second time the season after closing out Orange Empire Conference (OEC) play with them just two weekends ago.

All playoff games are sponsored by the CCCAA and will have a charge for admission. General admission is $12 and students with a valid ID, faculty, staff, veterans, seniors and children under 17 will be $8 – cash only. There will be an additional $5 charge for parking that can be purchased using the ParkMobile app of the kiosk located in the parking lot behind the press box of the baseball field.

All fans are required to provide full proof of vaccination upon entrance. Failure to abide by District vaccination rules and regulations for fans constitutes grounds for removal from Evans Sports Complex.

Iron sharpens iron, and the OEC competition makes the playoffs even stronger. Four OEC teams are left standing in the southern regionals and two will face off this week: the third-seed Tigers and the 11th seeded Chargers.

The two juggernaut squads met to close out the regular season and went blow for blow, but it was the Tigers who whipped out the brooms for the series sweep. Offense was not at a premium as there were a combined 56 runs crossed home plate with 37 of those runs swinging Riverside's direction.

Game two on the road was the most exciting as the 12 inning melee ended with Riverside etching an eight spot against the Chargers leading to the victory. In the top of the ninth, Riverside found themselves down by three as freshman right fielder and OEC Player of the Year Matthew Bardowell dug into the box. He followed by connecting for a three-run blast to send the game into extra innings. It was his second homerun of the game after he launched a solo shot in the top of the third inning.

Bardowell, who leads the state in doubles (21) and is second in batting average (.450) and slugging percentage (.765) leads his team in the heart of the order. He paces his squad in RBI (53) and has driven in at least one run in 24 games and has recorded two or more RBI in 15 games. Furthermore, he has notched two or more hits in 21 games highlighted by his team-pacing 57 hits.

In the first round of the playoffs, Bardowell went 3-for-6 with two doubles one homerun and was intentionally walked four times in the second game to set an RCC record.

Freshman third baseman Ignacio Alvarez follows who currently holds an eight game hitting streak. He is coming off of a 5-for-7 showing against Grossmont where he drove in five RBI and scored three times. In the series against Cypress, he went 5-for-11 with three RBI and four runs scored.

While Riverside's starting pitching has been somewhat shaky, it is the bullpen that has held down the bump throughout the first round of playoffs. Sophomore reliever Ryan Hernandez strung together his best outing of the season in game one of the playoffs by allowing just one hit and fanning six in 4.1 innings of action. Freshman reliever Luis Sakemi Sato tossed a strong two innings in game two allowing a mere run and striking out three.

Freshman right hander David Butler (7-0) will likely toe the slab in the opening game of the series. He was roughed up by the Chargers in his last outing, but the OEC Pitcher of the Year is not accustomed to allowing runs. He posted a 3.18 ERA which is the lowest among the starting rotation. He has fanned 42 total batters and has tossed a team-high 65 innings.