It is spring. The flowers bloom. The days are longer. The sun shines. It’s opening week for Major League Baseball. And while America is just getting ready for its first opening pitch, UC Santa Cruz’s club baseball team is already halfway through their season, looking to close strong.
“Our season started back in the first weekend of February. We played Cal Poly SLO,” said Dustin Miller, third-year player, coach and team captain of the UCSC club baseball team. The team is a member of the National Club Baseball Association (NCBA).
UCSC club baseball has a record of 5-8. In their season opener, they played a doubleheader against Cal Poly SLO, lost the first game, but came back to shut them out in the second game. The Slugs followed that weekend with three victories against UC Merced, and three more losses to University of Antelope Valley.
The Slugs face Cal Poly SLO and UC Santa Barbara, in two home games to end the season. They are fighting for an appearance in the post-season.
“We really gotta win out to have a chance,” Miller said. “The first place team in our league already swept us. If we win out, we’ll have a good chance of getting the wild card and going into the post-season.”
So far, the Slugs have played some exciting games.
“Our three-game series against Merced was pretty epic,” Miller said. “We had Nick Agler hit for the cycle. He had three home runs. We won all three against them. He got NCBA player of the week in the nation.”
Infielder Gilbert Prieto also hit back-to-back home runs that game.
The Slugs will play exhibition games this Saturday and Sunday against Morris League, a men’s team from Sacramento. Saturday’s game starts at 6 p.m., followed by Sunday’s 11 a.m. doubleheader at Harvey West Park, the Slugs’ home field.
“We’ve never played them before,” Miller said. “I expect three wins from this team. We’ve got six conference games following this weekend.”
Third baseman and pitcher Nick Agler spoke about the Slugs’ approach to the end of their baseball season, and what the beginning of spring meant to him.
“Spring means the beginning of the real baseball season,” Agler said. “Even though our season sort of wanes, we get to sit there and watch all the pros play, which is always awesome. Inspiration for next season.”
Miller urges fans to come out this Saturday and support the team.
“Not many teams have fans, but we definitely like to be that team when other teams come here, and our fans are there getting rowdy,” he said.
Drawing comparisons to MLB teams, Miller characterized his team as dogged.
“If I had one word to describe us, it’d be scrappy,” Miller said during practice on the East Field. “We’re definitely not the Yankees. And we’re definitely not the Astros, either. We just fight hard.”