Baseball team prepares for season opener Feb. 6

Christopher Sugarman and Christopher Sugarman

Spring is around the corner and that means one thing – Vaquero baseball will have fresh, powerhouse transfers with their homegrown talent headlining the 2010 squad.

After coming up short en route to the playoffs last year with a mid season collapse, the Vaqueros are focused on an extended season.

City College just missed the playoffs with a record start (10-1) and a strong finish (8-3), but had a dismal patch in the middle of the season, going 7-14.

“That has to be our underlined goal-to make the playoffs,” head coach Teddy Warrecker said. “That’s our measuring stick for success.”

Warrecker has had plenty of success since becoming the City College skipper in 2001.

In 2007, he marched the Vaqs to their first Western State Conference title in 35 years and had 34 wins, more wins in one season than any coach before him, transforming the once struggling program.

The Vaqueros open their season on the road at 1 p.m. Feb. 6 at Saddleback College and come back to the friendly confines of Pershing Park to host Glendale College on Feb. 9.

Other notable opponents City College will mark on its schedule are Santa Ana College, Irvine Valley, and inner-conference-rival Cuesta College.

“Our non-conference schedule is very challenging,” Warrecker said.

The schedule will be reduced by 20 percent resulting in eight fewer games because of state budget cuts.

“This makes everything more magnified,” Warrecker said. “The wins and losses are more meaningful since there is less time to make up lost ground.”

Pivotal players are back from last season’s squad.

Second-team all WSC performers’ Zach Chavez, a Santa Barbara High School graduate, who hit .280 with four homeruns last year, will anchor the middle infield at shortstop and hit leadoff.

Zach Edgington, a 6-foot-one left-hander, will be the ace of the pitching staff and has already committed to play for UCSB next season. The hurler went 5-2 last season, compiled a 3.40 ERA and struck out 49 batters last season.

“We have a lot of strengths on the team this year,” Edgington said. “We are going to have a pitching staff full of experience.”

Be sure to catch a glimpse of catcher Steven Keller behind the dish.

Keller had a slugging percentage of .362, while clobbering three homeruns last season and will look to surpass those numbers in 2010.

“Steven made great strides at both sides of the ball this offseason,” Warrecker said. “He has great work ethic.”

A key addition to the team is Abe Ruiz who played for Arizona State last season.

Ruiz was selected in the 47th round by the San Francisco Giants in the 2008 Major League Baseball draft and has committed to play at Long Beach State next year- a program that has produced star Major League infielders like Evan Longoria and Troy Tulowitzki.

“Abe should play third for us and hit in the middle of the order,” Warrecker said. “He is a physical kid and should bring some power to the lineup.”

With an abundance of fresh and established talent, Vaquero baseball will aim to go deep into the playoffs.

“I would like to think that this team can go really far,” Warrecker said. “We certainly have the ability.”