Saving Their Best To Last – A Look Back at a Toro Team That Refused to Quitcsudhbulletin October 3, 2022 0 COMMENTS
By Raymond Castillo
The 2022 CSUDH baseball team apparently felt it needed to make up for lost time. How else to explain the fact that after having its 2021 season canceled, the Toros decided to play three California Collegiate Athletic Association seasons in 2022?
At least it felt that way. Season one covered the first half of conference action. After sweeping a doubleheader on a blustery day at Chico State to give the tenth ranked Wildcats only their third and fourth losses at home, the Toros were 16-7, three games behind conference leader Cal State Monterey.
Season two began the next day. After erasing a four-run deficit and scoring three in the top of the ninth to take an 11-8 lead, the Toros surrendered six runs in the bottom of the inning. That was the first of 13 losses over their last 17 regular season games, including a season-ending sweep by Cal Poly Pomona.
The Toros limped into the CCAA playoffs as the lowest seed and now faced tournament host and no. 3 seed, Chico State, in a single-elimination game on May 11. This day was one of the most intense
four days in CSUDH athletics history and had the Toros nine outs away from claiming their first CCAA championship.
The Toros were led in the postseason, as they were all season, by their captain and shortstop, Scott Ogrin. Ogrin took home Co-MVP of theconference tournament after tying two conference records for most RBI in a single game(6), and most homeruns in a game (2). Ogrin led the CCAA in regular season homeruns(24) and also set the CSUDH individual record for homeruns in a single season.
A tale of two seasons for the Toros as the first half of the year, they jumped out to a 16-7 record in CCAA play and finished the regular season losing 13 out of 17 games to finish with an overall record of 28-27 and 20-20 in CCAA play. Strong play from the bats carried the team at times while the pitching staff struggled to hold leads late in games.
In the CCAA tournament, the lowest seeded Toros were matched up with tournament host Chico State to begin play.The #6 seeded Toros handled the #3 seeded Wildcats 11-5 in the winner take all game behind six and two thirds of two-run ball from their ace Isaac Mullins and advanced them from lose and go home
to double elimination play throughout the rest of the playoffs.
CSUDH was tasked with playing the #1 seed, Cal State Monterey Bay team, who had taken three out of four games from the Toros in Carson three weeks prior to the tournament. The Toros never said die as they rallied with three runs in the ninth inning to take the lead and eventually hold off the Otters 5-4. CSUDH capitalized on costly mistakes as an opening walk and an error by the left fielder allowed the toros to tie and take the lead after being down 3-2 to begin the ninth.
The Toros advanced to the semi-finals where they faced off against Cal Poly Pomona. A 3-1 lead evaporated in the seventh inning as an unfortunate common occurrence would happen, the bullpen could not hold the lead. The Broncos scored four, two, and one in the seventh, eighth, and ninth off of the Toro bullpen to secure an 8-5 victory and bumped the Toros to within one game of elimination.
Relegated to the losers bracket, CSUDH faced off against Cal State San Bernardino which proved to be a cakewalk to the championship game for a rematch with Cal Poly Pomona. Seven dominant innings by Toro Starter Humberto Chiquito and two home runs (one was a grandslam) by shortstop Scott Ogrin who led the way for the first conference championship game since 2015 for Cal State Dominguez Hills.
After having lost already once in the tournament, the lowest seed Toros would have had to defeat the Cal Poly Pomona Broncos twice to capture their first conference championship in school history. Back-to-back bombs in the third inning by seniors Pierson Loska and Scott Ogrin had theToros believing in the impossible. Which ended up being exactly just that as their three run lead was wiped away the very next inning in the fourth A Look Back at a Toro Team That Refused to Quit when the Broncos exploded for four runs with all the moment tum in the world. Single runs in the fourth and sixth innings gave the Toros bullpen one last chance to save the game but proved unsuccessful. Four more runs in the seventh inning by the Broncos cemented the final result of second-place for the Toros.
An overall extremely successful season for Cal State Dominguez Hills and Head Coach, Tyler Wright, who coming into this season was 82-135 overall and 68-112 in the CCAA (.378 winning percentage) with no CCAA tournament bids. Wright and his staff produced four All-CCAA tournament team members (Ogrin, Loska, Humberto Chiquito, and Alberto Luevano), Newcomer of the year (Eric Smelko), three All-CCAA first team members (Ogrin, Smelko, Mullins), and one honorable mention (Alberto Luevano).
Tyler Wright and his team will look to improve on a .500 record in conference play with out their leaders on the field after All-CCAA first teamers Scott Ogrin and Isaac Mullins, and overall heartbeat of the team, Pierson Loska have moved on after graduating.