Continuing the three-part series of club sports at CSU, this week focuses on the baseball team as they continue to have national success at the club level.
It’s the National Club Baseball Association. It’s the Rocky Mountain North Conference. It’s the defending back-to-back national champions CSU Rams.
This season the baseball team has a first-year head coach in Mike Abernathy, who replaced Frank Gonzales. The team also was forced to schedule their first 16 games on the road due to field usage policies by the school (six of those were snowed out). But adversity aside, CSU remains one of the top teams in the country entering this week, ranked No. 2 behind Virginia Tech.
The baseball team also fields a squad with the ability to step outside the club frame and challenge the upper tier. Although wood bat contests against Trinidad State Junior College and Otero JC have not gone well for the Rams (1-7 versus those two teams), a self-funded trip to Arizona produced five wins. In the club stratum, the Rams are dominant. The team is 14-4 this season and 7-1 in conference against such teams as Colorado, Northern Colorado and Wyoming.
In a game of numbers, the Ram players quest to claim them all nationally.
Last week, Caleb Bond, CSU’s junior third baseman, was named the NCBA Player of the Week. Bond, in just three games against Wyoming, went 9-for-13 with three home runs, three triples, a double and an amazing 18 runs batted in (12 coming in one game in which he hit two home runs, one a grand slam). Bond currently leads the nation in hits (29) and RBIs (29), and he sits top five in home runs (5), triples (4), doubles (6), runs scored (22) and slugging percentage (.866).
It is no wonder coach Abernathy said just last week, “he’s a guy I feel should be considered for the draft.”
Fifth year senior shortstop Brooks Purdy sits right behind Bond in hits, chipping in 22 while boasting a .556 batting average (second in the nation).
An arm injury to senior pitcher Dan Strawn, who was 4-1 on the year (prior to the injury) and is likely done for the remainder of the season, has put a lot of pressure on Thomas Ahrens, who is stepping to the bump nicely.
Ahrens is 5-1 on the season with a diminutive earned run average of 1.99. Striking out 8.6 hitters per nine innings, his 26 strikeouts in 27-plus innings ranks fourth in the country.
The team also manages to squeeze a little fun into the mix. On May 20, the baseball team will hold their third annual golf tournament, fitting the tee-time between the regional tournament and the NCBA World Series.
You can check out the baseball team as they host Northern Colorado on Saturday and Sunday. Both games will start at noon at Ram Field.
Aaron Schoonmaker can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org