The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

Panthers lose pitchers, add depth to bullpen

Brandon Langan, City College freshman first baseman, makes the catch to attempt a pickoff on Joe Garabedian, Fresno City College sophomore infielder, in top of the seventh at Union Stadium.

Kristopher Hooks | Sports Editor | [email protected]

City College baseball team aims for state championship in

Last year, despite a successful regular season, City College’s baseball team lost the last game of a three-game series in the first round of the California Community College Athletic Association Northern Regional Playoffs.

This season, the Panthers look to improve on their successful 2014 campaign with veteran pitching, a deeper line-up and some talented freshman.

“I think we’re pretty athletic in the field,” said head coach Derek Sullivan. “We’ve got some returning guys that are key — some experience from last year — but we also have some athletic, impactful freshman that I think will be pretty good.”

Going into the 2015 season, the Panthers will be without four of their pitchers from last season who transferred to four-year universities: Andrew Koumelis (Willamette University), Gabe Araj (University of Central Arkansas), Grant Yost (Campbell University) and Nate Berumen (Sonoma State University).

“We had really solid, quality guys that were coming in out of the bullpen,” said Sullivan. “The important innings at the end of the game, we had a lot of trustworthy, talented pitchers. So that’s a huge loss.”

Returning to the mound this season for the Panthers are starting right-handed pitchers Ben Ritchey and Zach Smart. Last season, Ritchey boasted a 5-2 record with a 2.03 ERA and was named first team All Big 8 Conference. Smart was a perfect 4-0 in starts with a 1.99 ERA and was named second team All Big 8 Conference.

Also returning is closing pitcher Brandon Nunn who recorded six saves and boasted a team-best 1.17 ERA on the season.

The three pitchers will be leading a bullpen that consists of 15 pitchers, including 12 freshmen. The amount of pitchers on the roster will allow for a deeper bullpen compared to last year, according to Sullivan.

According to Smart, he will be looking to help train the young group by leading by example.

“I just need to try and stay on top of them as much as I can,” said Smart. “If they make a mistake, [I] get on them and correct them, but I also need to work on my stuff first so my work shows what the freshmen have to do.”

The Panthers will also be without Kashka Dudley (Dickinson State University), Matt Caselli (University of La Verne), Robby Link (CSU East Bay) and All Big 8 Conference players Jared James (CSU Long Beach) and Jerrod Bravo (CSU Fullerton).
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Bravo, James and Link were first, second and third on the team in many hitting categories including hits, runs, RBI’s and stolen bases. In 2014, their batting averages were some of the best on the team with .340, .351 and .252, respectively.

According to Ritchey, it will take a team effort to accomplish the goals set before the start of the season.

“We just need to go out there and compete every pitch and not give anything up for free,” said Ritchey.

Despite some key losses in the lineup, Sullivan expects the team to compete on a high level in what is often considered the toughest conference in Northern California — the Big 8 Conference.

One key component this season, according to Sullivan, is the strength and depth in the team’s batting lineup.

“I think we’re a little deeper this year,” said Sullivan. “We could potentially get down to the sixth and seventh spot in the order where there’s some wham in the bat.”

The batting order this season will see more left handed hitters, which will give the Panthers and added advantage against right handed pitchers. Sullivan said that the lineup will be more flexible and will allow for great matchups.

So far in the early season, the team has played Fresno City College in a two game series and split the series 1-1.

Freshman Brandon Langan, a player whom Sullivan has high expectations for, had a .429 batting average and three RBI’s in the games. Sophomore Drake Atlee had a big series as well, hittting the go-ahead homerun in the seventh inning of the first game.

According to Sullivan, the goal for this season is the same as in past seasons: win it all.

“I’d love to win a league championship, but our goal each and every year is to win a state championship,” said Sullivan. “So as long as we do whatever it is we have to do to get in the playoffs and get ourselves a chance, that’s what matters the most.”

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