Eagles Baseball Off to a Red Hot Start as Conference Play Begins

Eagles Baseball Off to a Red Hot Start as Conference Play Begins

As non-conference play ended during the last week of February, the Eagles couldn’t be off to a better start for their 2024 campaign. As of March 5th, the Eagles sit at a stout 14-3 record and have won all four of their conference games thus far. Their early success earned the CCCBCA’s respect, as they ranked MSJC’s Eagles as the 7th-best team in the south polls. “These guys are dedicated and determined; that’s kind of been our motto for the year, and they’re really buying into it,” said head coach Jake Hansen, who thinks very highly of his team. After a strong 29-12 2023 record, the Eagles saw an unfortunate early postseason exit, losing both their games to El Camino, and they are playing with a vengeance so far this season. 

The roster is loaded with talent, and the results reflect this, as the team is hitting an exceptional .322 batting average. The team’s strength is the lineup, led by sophomore Christian Smith. Smith, who has taken home conference position player of the week twice this season, is leading the team in batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, and home runs and is tied with Juni Rodriguez in RBIs with 21. He’s hitting with a spectacular slash line of .418/.524/.746 to go with his five home runs. Despite this, their current hottest hitter has been sophomore Greg Luna, who hits in the leadoff spot of the lineup on a game-by-game basis. Luna, who won conference position player of the week during the week of February 19-23, has been hitting with a slash line of .397/.511/.507 and leads his team in stolen bases with 11. “Greg is one and a million, great kid, great family, does everything to a T,” says coach Hansen. He also points out that Luna “comes with that mindset every day of wanting to get better.” It’s a lineup full of great players and great leaders who have all been major catalysts for their early season success. 

While the skill players have dominated, the pitching staff has stayed caught up. The team, led by sophomore Joseph Romero, has a well-rounded starting rotation that includes sophomores Pierce Sailor and Julian Castro, who all have a winning record. When asking Coach Hansen about his pitching staff, he expressed his confidence level in them, saying, “Those guys… their preparation through practices, through the week to get them ready for their start days. The confidence level has been really good.” The pitching staff has also received a major boost from freshman Evan Stratton, a rising star for the Eagles. Stratton, who won conference pitcher of the week of February 19-23, the same week Luna won position player of the week, has an earned run average of 2.25 and a whip of .81. 

Right-hander, Pierce Sailer warming up in between innings vs. San Diego City. (Jaden Wright)

Sitting at a 14-3 record doesn’t come easy, and maintaining this success won’t be any easier. The Eagles have had some dominant victories like their 15-6 win over Grossmont, 15-3 win over Compton, and 18-2 win over Cerro Caso. With that being said, they’ve also played in some nail-biters in their 6-5 loss in extra innings to Allan Hancock and their 9-8 win over 9th-ranked Golden West. However, this team is built to last and go far. It’s a long season, and baseball is a physically and mentally demanding sport. Still, coach Hansen preaches the mentality that “Today matters… whether this hour, this drill, this practice setting, and then we can talk about tomorrow. From the coaching staff to demonstrate that and then obviously to the players, it’s phenomenal that they understand that. We can’t get complacent… but kind of honing that we haven’t done anything yet mentality, these guys understand that.” While they’ve had success early on, they understand that the job isn’t finished, but with their talent and strong leadership, the sky’s the limit. 

Works Cited 





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Jaden Wright
Jaden Wright, Writer
Hello, my name is Jaden. I am a Journalism major here at MSJC and this is my firstsemester with the Talon. I’m hoping to transfer to a university in fall 2024 to pursue abachelor's degree. I love all things sports and I look forward to sharing that passion withThe Talon
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