BASEBALL: Cal Baptist Opening Season at Cal State Los Angeles

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The Cal Baptist baseball team opens the season with a three-game series vs. Cal State Los Angeles beginning on Thursday February 2. The series shifts to CBU on Friday night for the Lancers home opener. Inland_Sports multi-media journalist Cullen Holt previews the season.

Lancers Focused on This Year, This Team

By Cullen Holt 

RIVERSIDE – Sitting in front of various members of the media at Cal Baptist Baseball Media Day, skipper Gary Adcock made it very clear that the previous season and the heartbreak that came with it were in the past. “We addressed last year and the disappointment of last year in our very first meeting, and then I said that’s where it’s gonna end. We’re not gonna address it. Were not gonna talk about it.”

CBU’s highly-successful 2016 campaign came to a close with a loss to Cal Poly Pomona in the final of the NCAA Division II West Regional Tournament. A win would have set up a rematch with Cal Poly and another win would have sent the Lancers to the Division II College World Series. Adding to the disappointment of losing was the fact that the Lancers let a four-run lead slip away and went on to fall short by just one run.

With the recent announcement that California Baptist will be making the transition to Division I starting in the 2018-2019 school year, questions about the future were inevitable.

While it would be easy to look back at the heartbreak of last season and look forward to the program being Division I next season, Adcock and his team are focused on success in the present. “We’re trying to navigate those waters of being a relevant, championship-driven Division Two team, but be able to make the smooth transition to Division One.” Adcock said, “I think we’ve done that.”

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Adcock also said that his seniors were the first players he was focused on and that the younger and newer athletes would be recruited as part of the transition or inaugural team. CBU is also looking forward to the recruiting perks of being DI for building a team that can be successful at a higher level.

“It’s not that we were void of Division One players,” Adcock said about his team. “We just need more of them… We’ve gotta probably increase our depth first and foremost. The depth will be able to be increased with the scholarship increase right off the bat… Lack of maybe bullpen depth got to us a bit.”

Cal Baptist feels a sense of urgency to be successful given that, per NCAA rules, this will be their second-to-last season of postseason eligibility until the 2023 season. “Last year, we should have won,” outfielder Ryan Williams commented. “And that’s the approach we take with the younger guys to set them up for success.”

The Lancers enter this season ranked 14th in the nation for Division II in the Collegiate Baseball Newspaper’s Preseason Poll. This ranking is based more on the success of the CBU baseball program as a whole rather than the caliber of talent on the roster. This year’s Lancers have been, as Adcock put it, “gutted.”

Cal Baptist returns only two of nine starters for this season. And will start four freshmen in the infield in select games. However, considering the success CBU has had in the past, optimism still remains. Adcock says he will lean on the influx of freshman and transfer talent along with key returners Bryce Macy and Ryan Williams.

According to Adcock, Macy and Williams “were part-time players last year turned everyday players at the end of the season.” Together, they combined for 18 RBI’s in the regional tournament alone.

As always, the Lancers will rely on the guys on the mound to carry their team. Adcock said, “As long as I sit in the chair as a pitching coach who’s a head coach, the pitching is gonna drive the program.”

How is that going to play out considering CBU lost all but one of their starting pitchers from last year? Catcher Bryce Macy, who likely knows the rotation and bullpen better than anyone believes turnover won’t be an issue. “I feel like our pitching staff is going to be really good. We’ll pick up the slack that we lost from last year. I think we’ll pitch just fine this year.”

Lancer fans need their team to make a major statement before the transition period starts. Four years is a long time to wait for another postseason run.

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