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

Baseball misses playoffs for first time in 35 years

City College head coach Derek Sullivan talking to his players before the game against Sierra at Union Stadium on March 5th. Dianne Rose /
City College head coach Derek Sullivan talking to his players before the game against Sierra at Union Stadium on March 5th.
Dianne Rose / [email protected]

Coach Sullivan analyzes reasons for troubled season

Round 1 of the California Community College Athletic Association baseball playoffs begins today — and for the first time in 35 years, City College will not be playing.

The Panthers ended their disappointing 2015 season with a 17-19 record — 9-12 in Big 8 Conference play. According to head coach Derek Sullivan, many shortcomings on the field led to the sub .500 record that left the team preparing for next season rather than playing this weekend.

“We were talented enough, but we just didn’t play good enough baseball over the course of the season,” said Sullivan. “Often enough, if we scored enough runs to win, then we gave up too many. We had some issues with consistency in our starting pitching. We had some issues with consistency in our bullpen.”

Despite the losing record, and because of the CCCAA power rankings, the Panthers still found themselves on the brink of a playoff in the final game of the season. However, they needed five different teams to lose, which proved to be too many obstacles in their way.

Sullivan acknowledged that a last-minute miracle was too much to hope for that late in the season and that the team needed to be more consistent early in the season.

According to Sullivan, inconsistency in the pitching rotation was large part of the team’s shortcomings this season.

“There was definitely a shared lack of performance,” said Sullivan. “There were times where we’d get a great starting performance, and then we’d lose it from the bullpen. There were times where we’d get a very poor starting performance, and then the bullpen would come in and do fine.

“It’s not like our bullpen just let us down, or our starting pitchers let us down, it’s just generally we weren’t good enough. I think we may have been leaning on our pitching, and we didn’t pitch as well as we thought we would.”
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Coming into the season, expectations were high for starting sophomore pitchers Ben Ritchey and Zach Smart. Although Ritchey finished with a 7-1 record, topping his freshman record of 5-2, Smart fell short of his 4-0, 1.99 ERA freshman season. Smart didn’t get his first win until the second to last game of the season and finished 1-5 with a 5.76 ERA.

However, pitching was not the only problem for the Panthers. According to Sullivan, the team struggled to manufacture runs by hitting the ground ball, sacrifice flys and bunts.

“We got better as the year went on,” said Sullivan “but we left too many runners stranded, that even if a percentage of them scored, it would probably turn the tide in a game or two.”

The team finished fifth in the Big 8 Conference in batting average at .259 and fourth in RBIs with 172. Although those numbers almost mirror the ones from the 2014 campaign, the production was not as timely.

The end of the season doesn’t signal all bad news for the Panthers. Of the 11 sophomores on the roster, most, if not all, will transfer to four-year universities to continue playing.

As of today, Ritchey and Alex Muzzi have committed to playing at two of the nation’s top Division 1 teams. Ritchey will be taking the mound for UC Irvine in the fall, and Muzzi will be playing for Cal State Long Beach.

Looking to replace them in 2016 will be some of the team’s top freshman, including Anthony Fellman, Brandon Langan, Boston Romero and Travis Magness. As the Panthers go into their fall program, Sullivan hopes incoming freshmen, transferring players and sophomores will compete and push each other.

“That’s what college is all about, it’s not just baseball,” said Sullivan. “This is an institution of higher learning, so everybody’s got to be able to look in the mirror and figure out and refine their process on how we can get out and do better next year.”

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