Imagine stepping up to the plate, down by one run. It’s the final inning, the bases are loaded, and there are two outs. The entire game depends on you coming through.
Bruins freshman catcher Jake Herman lived that moment earlier this season.
Entering the bottom of the eighth inning against the South Mountain Cougars, the Bruins had scratched across one run, closing the gap to 3-2. With the bases loaded, head coach D.G. Nelson tabbed Herman as the guy the Bruins wanted with a bat in his hands.
Herman came through in a big way; one swing of the bat sent the ball screaming over the outfield fence for a walk-off grand slam home run and 6-3 Bruin victory.
Following that heart-stopping moment, No. 20 Salt Lake Community College (13-3) has won eight of nine games, beating the defending NJCAA National Champion and then-No. 6 Central Arizona before falling to then-No. 12 Yavapai College in the Arizona tournament.
The sun might not always be out, and temperatures are still chilly, but Bruin baseball is ready to enter the conference portion of its schedule at home this weekend.
Entering his 15th season, head coach D.G. Nelson is excited to get the campaign started.
“We need to keep working, but we’re looking forward to playing in front of our home fans,” says Nelson.
Nelson is the longest-tenured coach on the staff, according to Kevin Dustin, director of SLCC Athletics.
“We count on D.G. to, in essence, be the dean of our coaching staff and set an example,” says Dustin.
It is Nelson’s example that helped lead to new LED lighting and new turf at Cate Field in West Jordan. But it’s the work with the players on the field that should be even more noticeable this season.
Baseball is often the toughest sport to predict. No matter how much it is studied or how much talent coaches think they have on the field, the final result usually comes down to pitching.
“With baseball, depth of pitching is key. This year, it seems like we are lined up, knock on wood, to have some depth and maturity in our pitching staff,” says Dustin.
Sophomores Jake Wilson, Breck Eichelberger, Jason James and Fynn Chester anchor the starting staff. Several players with extensive experience from last season look to help their pitchers defensively, in addition to run support by spraying the ball all over the diamond.
“We can really hit,” says Paul Marble, associate director of SLCC Athletics. “Cole Gambill can swing it, Eli [Norman] can crush it, Cade [Perkins] can hit. I’m leaving guys out, we have so many options.”
SLCC swept Treasure Valley Community College in two separate doubleheaders last Friday and Saturday by a combined score of 46-3. This weekend, the Bruins take on Colorado Northwestern Community College to begin conference play.
Bruin baseball games are streamed online at scenicwestnetwork.com.