By Mitch Welch
[dropcap]S[/dropcap]ophomore first baseman Daniel Martinez knocked in the Dons final run of the season. It was a solo home run with one out in the bottom of the ninth inning in a May 11, 6-2 loss against visiting Southwestern College.
“It could have been my last at bat, which it was, and I just put a good swing on it,” Daniel Martinez said.
The Jaguars eliminated the Dons from the California
Community College Athletic Association Super Regionals, winning two games in a three-game series that began May 9 at Don Sneddon Field.
“We beat ourselves in a couple games and it didn’t turn out well,” Co-Head Coach Bryan Harris said.
Though the team was defeated at home, 2014 proved successful for the Dons. The team won its first conference title since 2011, finishing with a 14-7 record in conference play, sharing first place with Orange Coast College. Fullerton College took the title in 2013, and OCC earned champion honors in 2012.
“We had an advancement which is nice for us as first-time head coaches.
It was very productive for the guys being mostly freshman,” Harris said.
Despite returning seven players from the 2013 team, the squad is drastically different in 2014. Led by outfielder Ryan Aguilar, and infielders Martinez, Garret Brown and Joshua Vargas, the Dons led the OEC in seven different offensive categories, including batting average (.318), on-base percentage (.412), runs scored (326), RBIs (280) and hits (466).
“We hit the crap out of the ball but I feel the biggest difference this year was our pitching,” Harris said.
Led by submarine closer A.J. Franks, who compiled an OEC-leading 0.73 ERA in 28 games, the relief core threw about 140 of the 370.2 total innings pitched.
[quote“When a pitching staff does understand what’s expected of the them … the statistics usually follow,” Harris said.[/quote]
Hitting wasn’t the only place where the Dons led the OEC offensively. The squad swiped 108 bases, or 40 more than second place FCC. Vargas led the Dons in thievery, taking 20 bags, which was almost half as many as five of the eight OEC teams.
“A lot of it was JB (Co-Head Coach John Bryant) giving me … the green light to go on my own,” Vargas said.
Development on both sides of the ball gave the Dons their 17th conference title in the last 30 years, improving on a seventh place 2013 season.