Dominguez Hills Loaded for Stretch This Time
A year ago, Cal State Dominguez Hills’ baseball team was in the thick of the California Collegiate Athletic Assn. race. But after a 23-11 start, the Toros went 6-15.
This year, Dominguez Hills leads the conference with an 11-6 record (30-11 overall) and is ranked second nationally in Division II by Collegiate Baseball.
Don’t expect a fall this time.
Dominguez Hills has four four-year school transfers plus catcher Robert Harris, a redshirt at Alabama last year. But most important, pitchers Aaron Charlton and Scott Veeder might be the best one-two punch in the conference.
Charlton threw a no-hitter on March 19 against San Bernardino, and Veeder (7-2) is tied for the conference lead in victories. As a staff, Dominguez Hills has a 2.97 earned-run average.
“I knew we were going to pitch well,” said George Wing, Dominguez Hills coach. “Our pitchers were stifling our hitters all fall.”
But the hitting has been good too: The Toros have seven players with at least 90 at-bats who are hitting more than .300. Ray Judy, a senior transfer from Lewis and Clark State, leads the way at .384.
Harris has handled pitchers well and is hitting .500 with runners in scoring position.
So how did Wing get so many transfers to a relatively obscure Division II school?
“Well, mostly by not burning bridges with recruits,” Wing said. “Sometimes kids go to a Division I program and get overlooked. Charlton got overlooked and the same thing with Judy. Sometimes kids remember how we recruited or they just want a chance to play so they decide to go to Division II.”
Before the season, the Toros expected to be chasing Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. It’s the other way around now. Dominguez Hills took the season series between the teams, winning four of six. Head-to-head competition is the first tiebreaker to determine the conference champion.
This is Cal Poly SLO’s last year in Division II and, despite a 22-15 record, it has been a rocky one. The baseball program is the subject of an internal investigation for NCAA violations that include improper financial aid given to several players.
Coach Steve McFarland has voluntarily separated himself from the program to not hinder the investigation. There is no timetable for the results to be turned over to the NCAA, so the Mustangs could complete their season before receiving any potential punishment.
Despite the distractions, SLO is only a game behind Dominguez Hills and is ranked No. 10 in the nation.
UC Riverside, 30-13, 12-7 in the CCAA and ranked No. 13, has been a surprise because it pulled into a virtual tie with Dominguez Hills by beating Cal Poly Pomona on Tuesday.
Andy Owen leads Riverside with a .360 average, six home runs and 39 runs batted in. Pitcher Mike Eason is 7-1 and reliever Scott Tebbets has eight saves, one shy of the school record. However, Riverside has the toughest part of its road schedule ahead.
Cal Poly Pomona (25-18, 10-8) is the wild-card team. Like Riverside, the Broncos are off to a better start than expected and could contend at the end. Aaron Edwards is batting .379 and has set a school season-record by stealing 32 bases.
Protesters seeking the ouster of UC Riverside women’s basketball Coach Debi Woelke picketed Chancellor Raymond Orbach’s house last Wednesday.
The La Raza Coalition, an alliance of several Latino organizations not affiliated with the university, protested the treatment of two former players.
Gilberto Chavez, the executive director of La Raza Coalition, said his group became involved when Jennifer Newsome and Monica Vargas got into a fight with members of the team outside a Riverside restaurant on March 8.
Because the fight was off-campus, the university took no action. The Riverside County District Attorney’s office chose not to pursue the case because of conflicting stories from those involved. Chavez said the lack of response to the fight prompted La Raza’s involvement.
The team members involved have been directed not to have contact with Newsome and Vargas and not to return to the restaurant.
Chavez said Newsome and Vargas, who suffered a concussion, continue to receive harassing phone calls, and he said Woelke’s departure would ease tensions among current and former players.
The university had no official response to the picketing, which reportedly involved more than 60 people. Chavez said his group plans to picket again.
Woelke’s contract expires at the end of May and it, like all similar contracts at Riverside, is being reviewed.
University officials said a decision should be made by early May.
College Division Notes
Cal Poly Pomona’s Brian Dennis, who set the NCAA single-season record for most times hit by a pitch (20) last season, could become the career record holder. Dennis, a senior catcher, has been hit 11 times this season. The career mark is 38 by Jason Shapiro of UC Davis (1991-93). . . . Chris Beck of the Master’s College has broken his school record for strikeouts in a season. Beck has 109 after striking out 94 last season. Beck struck out 15 against Point Loma Nazarene (seventh best in the National Assn. of Intercollegiate Athletics) and holds the school record for career victories (26), strikeouts (311), innings pitched (327 1/3) and victories in a season (nine). Beck is 4-5 with a 3.79 ERA.