For the fifth time in program history, the Riverside City College baseball has won the California Community College Athletic Association (CCCAA) State Championship after defeating the Folsom Lake College Falcons, 10-8, on Monday afternoon.
It is the Tiger's first title under the direction of Head Coach Rudy Arguelles and his coaching staff. Furthermore, it is the team's first title in 15 years after snapping a 14 year drought from the state championship tournament.
"It's special and it doesn't matter how many times you get here," said Arguelles. "Each time it is going to be even more unique and special within its own. Being a champion is beyond words you can even describe. But the foundation to a championship team is always the same: it's Riverside and this is what we are about."
Arguelles and his staff, who is comprised of Associate Head Coach David Martinez and assistant coaches Ruben Ybarra, Hector Rabago and Josh Banuelos, led his team to a flawless 3-0 record in state championship play. They began by overcoming a four-run deficit in the bottom of the eighth to defeat Folsom Lake, 11-9, backed by a 14-8 tromping over Ohlone. They sealed the deal with a second victory over Folsom Lake on championship Monday, 10-8.
"First off, I think the experience of being here before paying dividends," said Arguelles. "Secondly, it doesn't matter if it's me and the title attached to my name. That's one thing that we preach is that there are zero egos. It's every one of these guys on the staff and on this roster. That's what it takes."
At games end, freshman center fielder Julian Alvarez was named the State Championship Tournament's Most Valuable Player (MVP). The poised center fielder battled through injury and went 5-for-10 with a double, RBI and three runs scored throughout the tournament. He earned Orange Empire Conference (OEC) Second Team recognition this season.
"Rafa [J. Alvarez] struggled throughout the playoffs, but he found ways to contribute as he has throughout the year," said Arguelles. "When we got here, it started clicking."
It was déjà vu for Riverside as they found themselves down by two runs entering into the bottom of the eighth inning. Freshman defensive replacement Ramsses Fierro led off the inning with a 10 pitch at bat and drew a crucial walk to spark the rally. He promptly stole second, backed by a free pass issued to J. Alvarez. Freshman shortstop Sebestian Flores followed by lacing a two RBI double down the left field line passed the outstretched glove of the third baseman. Fierro and J. Alvarez both scored on the play to tie the game up at seven all.
Riverside was not done yet as they continued to pile on the opportunities after loading the bases for freshman pinch hitter Adrian Arechiga. After another lengthy at bat, he drove a single up the middle to score freshman right fielder Matthew Bardowell and freshman third baseman Ignacio Alvarez leading to a 10-7 advantage.
Freshman closer Albert Roblez entered in the top of the ninth to help drive the final nail in the Folsom Lake coffin. It was not easy after allowing an unearned run, but the final out came via strikeout and the celebration ensued.
Riverside scored four runs in the bottom of the fourth inning after the Falcons snagged an early 3-0 led following two solo shots.
Bardowell launched a solo homerun to start the inning, backed by a sacrifice fly out from freshman second baseman Darius Price. Freshman catcher Daniel Briones capped the inning with a two out RBI double to plate freshman left fielder Casey Murray and freshman first baseman Daniel Garcia.
Riverside finishes the season on a winning note with an overall record of 36-12 and a conference clip of 15-6.
As Arguelles has been preaching the entire year, his message has stayed the same. When asked what is next for the Tiger's, re responded with a chilling, yet heartfelt message.
"We ride the wave. Nothing changes other than we achieved the ultimate. Now, Riverside's back."