Owls’ freshmen stepped up this season in the baseball team’s push for a playoff berth, but they ended the season coming up short.
For the first time since 2010, the Citrus College baseball team finished above .500. The Owls completed the season with a 20-16, 13-8 record.
Although the Owls improved on their 14-21, 8-16 from last season, they finished fourth in the Western State South Conference.
LA Mission won the conference title with a 16-5 record throughout the conference.
Home-field advantage did not apply to the 2014 Owls, as they finished with a 9-9 record at home and a 11-7 record away from Citrus College.
Pitching was a key factor in the Owls’ improvement this season. The team had a combined ERA of 3.01 and had opposing batters hitting just .247.
At the plate, the Owls averaged just over five runs a game and the Owls hitters hit .281 on the year with a combined total of just five home runs, three of which were hit by freshman outfielder Taylor Grace.
Grace, who made the WSC 1st team, had a solid freshman campaign, hitting .336, having an on-base percentage of .380, with 23 RBIs and 11 stolen bases. He only struck out 14 times in 134 at-bats.
On the mound, freshmen Nicholas Sergi and Sean Patton were a revelation for the Owls.
Sergi tossed 68 innings over 18 games, striking out 35 batters while allowing only one home run. Sergi had a team-best 1.99 ERA and posted a 5-1 record.
Patton, who was unanimously named to the WSC 1st team, appeared in 17 games and started six of them.
Patton posted a 5-4 record on the season with an ERA of 2.07, striking out 62 batters in the process.
The Owls went on a seven-game winning streak in the middle of the season, starting at West LA with a 12-4 victory on March 20. During the streak, the Owls would outscore their opponents 53-18.
Their streak would come to an end April 5 with a 9-6 extra inning loss to Antelope Valley.
The Owls had several players sign scholarships to continue their playing careers at the four-year level. Outfielder Nathan Virgen and pitcher Victor Garcia will be playing for Lindsey Wilson. Sophomore Michael Bradley will be heading to the University of Arkansas Pine Bluff.
In total, the Owls will have eight players moving on with scholarships.
The Owls will look to build on the momentum generated on the diamond this season and will head into next spring hoping to win their first conference title since 2011.