By Jordan Dickow
The College of Marin baseball team enjoyed last season by becoming The Bay Conference champions. They were able to get into the playoffs, but were eliminated in the second round. COM will look to repeat as conference champions in 2018. I sat down with College of Marin’s head coach Steve Berringer to get his thoughts on what his team needs to do to repeat as conference champions next season.
Coach mentioned that the team needs to stay hungry now that COM has won their conference. “We’re not the Warriors, but we now have to act like we have a target on our backs. “In every sport, every team’s goal each year is to win a championship. In baseball, winning the division is the first step towards winning a championship. For COM, winning their conference next year will be the first step into potentially winning a national championship. Coach Berringer continued by stating every team starts over with a 0-0 record at the beginning of every season, and anything can happen from year to year. The one aspect the team can control going into next year, is staying hungry as they start next season looking to defend their division crown.
I asked coach about specific areas of his team that he wants to see improvement in, and the pitching rotation and bullpen are areas that he is most concerned about.
Lacking Longevity from Pitching Staff
The pitching longevity College of Marin had last season attributed to their Conference Championship. COM benefited from sophomores Chase Gardner, Dominic Garihan, and Chrit Rudkin. These three pitchers clocked a combined 225.1 innings. Chase Gardner threw 81 innings and finished the 2017 season leading the Bay Valley conference with 88 strike outs. Gardner posted 2.56 ERA and a 9.78 K/9 in 2017. Dominic Garihan threw 75 innings, and posted a 6 K/9. Chrit Rudkin threw 69.1 innings with a 5.97 K/9. All three pitchers were able to provide College of Marin longevity on the mound while striking out batters at a high clip.
Unfortunately, these three inning eaters will not be returning to the rotation in 2018 because they transferred to other schools. Chase Gardner transferred to UCONN, Dominic Garihan transferred to Sonoma State, and Chrit Rudkin also transferred to another school as well. Going into next season, COM will look to freshmen Chris Allen, Dominic Burke, and Jason Wutsch to take over the rotation. Chris Allen recorded the most innings out of the three pitchers last season, as he posted 52.1 innings. Allen continued by putting up a 6.36 K/9. Although he was able to provide decent durability, he got knocked around last year as he finished last season with a 4.36 ERA. Jason Wutsch only recorded 25 innings, but he was able to prove he was able to strike out batters at a high rate, finishing last season with a 6.84 K/9. Dominic Burke threw even fewer innings than Wutsch, throwing 10.2 innings. Burke had 2.53 ERA which is good, but he’ll need more experience which he will get as a starter. These starters still can strike out batters at an efficient rate, but will need to show that they’re able to provide longevity to the rotation.
Now, while coach Berringer is concerned with his pitching staff, he believes that his offense and defense will pick up the slack.
Strong Offense and Defense
College of Marin’s offense was led by the 2017 Bay Valley conference MVP, Marcus Chiu. Chiu slashed a .349/.478/.651 and led the conference in home runs and RBI’s. He hit 13 home runs and collected 45 RBI’s. Other notable players in College of Marin’s offense are: Sophomores Dominic Burke, Jake Munoz, and Adam Hussain. Burke who will be in the pitching rotation next season, also plays third base. At the plate, Burke slashed .326/.390/.371 with 17 RBIs. Freshmen center fielder and left-handed pitcher Jake Munoz ended the year racking a .310/.409/.426 with 1 home run and 29 RBIs. Outfielder Adam Hussain had a great year at the plate last season, finishing with a .319/.423/.474 while hitting three home runs and twenty-nine RBIs.
In addition to College of Marin’s offense, their defense will provide coach Berringer some relief on the field. In 2017 COM had a team fielding percentage of .964. What made College of Marin’s defense so great last season, was the team’s ability to turn double plays The players who recorded the most double plays were Alex Davis, Marcus Chiu, and Maclean Meyn. Freshmen Alex Davis collected 17 double plays which was the most out of the three. Marcus Chiu recorded 15 double plays, and freshmen first basement Maclean Meyn 16. While Davis was able to turn the most double plays last season, he also collected 21 errors in 42 games. He will need to improve his defense at shortstop in 2018. Overall COM was able to get it done on defense, which will be a huge help next season given the 2018 pitching rotation will be a question mark.
College of Marin Player Development
Following Marcus Chiu’s MVP award, he was drafted by the Los Angeles Dodgers, and now is in their farm system. Former COM reliever Alec Kenilvort, was drafted by the Colorado Rockies in 2014, and is currently in the Milwaukee Brewers minor league system. He finished 2017 in High A ball.
Not only is COM a competitive school in the Bay Valley Conference, but they are successful at developing future professional baseball players. Good luck to the 2018 College of Marin Mariners.