With sixth-year Head Coach Aaron Holley at the helm, the University of Redlands baseball team battled through a rollercoaster of a season that left the Bulldogs hungry for a fresh start. After a record-breaking run in 2018, the Maroon and Gray struggled to find consistent answers but displayed intermittent bright spots throughout the campaign. The Bulldogs went 14-25-1 overall and 8-16 against Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) competition for seventh place in the standings.
After a few disappointing losses to start the season, the Maroon and Gray found its footing in Arizona with a pair of wins at the Tucson Invite. Aided by a three-RBI double from senior first baseman Brendan Moore (Murrieta, CA) in the sixth inning, the Bulldogs earned their first win of the season in an 8-5 decision against Sul Ross State University (TX). Moore finished the game with a 4-for-5 clip at the plate, while sophomore right fielder Cal Bridges (Fremont, CA) went 2-for-3 with an RBI. First-year pitcher Cameron Kundig (Redlands, CA) notched his first win with the Maroon and Gray by tossing six strikeouts. Despite a loss in the nightcap of their two-game slate, the Bulldogs bounced back for a resilient, 9-8 victory over Whitman College (WA) in extra innings. Redlands got out to a fast start with runs in the first four innings to build an 8-0 lead but were forced into extra innings when Whitman pushed the game-tying run across in the top of the eighth. Nonetheless, the Bulldogs loaded the bases, which allowed first-year centerfielder Payton Walsh (Santa Ana, CA) to seize the moment and blast a walk-off single with two outs and two strikes for a 9-8 victory. Senior shortstop and preseason Honorable Mention All-American Aaron Singh (Anaheim, CA) and first-year designated hitter Chris Hardin (Highland, CA) each knocked a triple in the effort.
During the next week, Redlands remained on the road with a highly-anticipated trip to Austin, Texas, for a four-game slate. First up, the Bulldogs split a pair of games against the University of Texas-Dallas (TX). In the second-game victory, the Maroon and Gray stormed out to a 9-0 lead through three innings of action. One more run in the next frame was enough to hold off the Comets in a 10-6 win. Senior second baseman Eduardo Martinez-Razo (Rialto, CA) went 2-for-4 with a run and three RBI.
The Bulldogs split their games against Concordia University (TX), with junior pitcher Michael Rishebarger (Oceanside, CA) pitching a gem in a 4-0 win. Through 6.2 innings, he struck out four, walked none, and scattered eight hits. Offensively, Bridges barreled two hits, while Moore did his job with a pair of sacrifice flies.
Redlands ended the month of February with a strong 8-1 victory in the final contest of a three-game series against Whittier College during the opening weekend of SCIAC competition. Junior second baseman Andrew Renteria (Van Nuys, CA) sparked an 8-0 surge with a home run in the top of the sixth, which snowballed into back-to-back RBI doubles from first-year designated hitter Alex Olague (Renton, WA) and first-year catcher Sammy Diaz (Palm Desert, CA) in the same inning. Kundig captured his third win of the season, with this one coming off six strikeouts and two hits in 6.2 innings pitched.
Redlands carried this momentum into March with two wins over Claremont-Mudd-Scripps Colleges to culminate a three-game win streak. The Bulldogs' bats came alive, as Moore, junior third baseman Anthony Acosta (Simi Valley, CA), and Walsh each registered three RBI in the first game of the series. In the following contest against the Stags, Walsh turned in another three-RBI game, while sophomore left fielder Brennen Carr (Chino Hills, CA) finished with two hits, two runs, and two RBI in the 7-6 victory in 10 innings. Renteria knocked a timely double to left center to plate Singh for the game-winning run.
After dropping their next three games, the Bulldogs bounced back with a tie and a pair of big wins in non-conference action at The Yard. In the 6-6 tie over Centenary College (LA), Acosta hit a clutch single with two outs to send Singh sliding home for the game-tying run in the bottom of the ninth. Unfortunately, the game was called due to darkness before a winner could be decided. The Maroon and Gray dominated Ithaca College (NY) and Bowdoin College (ME) the following weekend by uncorking 37 hits over the two contests. It was an all-around team effort in the 17-2 result against the Ithaca Bombers. Among the highlights, Bridges provided three hits, three runs, and two RBI. In addition, Singh contributed two runs and four RBI, while Walsh registered a pair of hits and three RBI. Sophomore pitcher Chris Fousek Jr. (San Diego, CA) earned the win with four strikeouts in six innings, while sophomore pitcher Justin Yang (Fountain Valley, CA) climbed the hill for the first time during the season and threw two strikeouts in one inning. In the ensuing 17-1 decision against the Polar Bears, the Maroon and Gray kept the momentum going. With first-year pitcher Andrew Rueter (San Diego, CA) on the mound, the Bulldogs built a 12-0 lead before Bowdoin made it on the board. He exited the game with six strikeouts in six innings pitched, as Kundig and Hardin each fanned two batters in their stints on the hill. Walsh tallied a 3-for-4 day at the plate with three RBI and two runs scored.
After withstanding a rough patch over the next week, the Bulldogs rallied to win five out of their next six games, including a sweep over SCIAC foe, Pomona-Pitzer Colleges. The series against the Sagehens was tight, as each game was decided by no more than three runs. Redlands erased a five-run deficit in the opening 11-9 victory before Walsh stepped up for three hits and four RBI to help seal the 8-5 game-two win. To close out the series, Acosta registered three hits and scored on a walk-off wild pitch, as the Bulldogs completed the month of March with a series sweep. Next up, the Maroon and Gray took care of Caltech on the road in a convincing, 14-2 victory in eight innings. Acosta dominated the plate with a 4-for-5 showing and six RBI, while Fousek Jr. got the job done on the mound with five strikeouts. When the series returned to The Yard, Rueter fanned five, while Yang picked up the save with three strikeouts, which yielded a 7-3 victory for Redlands.
Unfortunately, the Bulldogs lost steam in the latter portion of their schedule with losses in their final three series.
For the year, Acosta led the team with a season batting average of .349 to go along with his team-high 51 hits. He upped the ante against SCIAC competition with a .413 batting average, while also finishing in a four-way tie for first place in the conference with 23 RBI and ranking second in doubles and triples. He also owned the third-best slugging percentage of .587 in conference action. All of his success at the plate and in the field resulted in a First-Team All-SCIAC nod in his inaugural season with the Maroon and Gray.
With a dedicated coaching staff leading the way, Bulldog baseball eyes a reappearance at the top half of the SCIAC, as it benefits from the return of a talented core that gained priceless experience throughout the challenges of the season. While filling the void left by four graduating seniors, the Bulldogs hold high hopes for a bright future, with the program's recent success pushing them forward.