Scooby’s Corner: baseball team makes playoffs despite season struggles

After a two year absence, the baseball team rides into the playoffs this year after being out of post-season play since 2011. It was not the prettiest season the team could have played by any means, but the team did prove itself to be worthy of being considered a fighting team.

The reason the Brahmas made it into the playoffs had to do with the fact that they played one of the toughest non-conference schedules in the Western State Conference. Pierce had nine wins in their 16 game non-conference schedule and swept the season series against third ranked Santa Ana and also swept 11th ranked LA Mission.

For the Brahmas’ run to be successful through the playoffs, they’re going to need more than just their hitting.  The Brahmas’ team ERA during the season was 5.45, which is the tenth worst of all the teams in California.

The Brahmas are going to need to improve their pitching, because let’s face it, playoff games are won and lost with how successful or unsuccessful your pitching is.

The lowest ERA for any Brahma pitcher was Brandon Ortega, whose average was 4.15. The only problem is Ortega is used as a reliever. The Brahmas cannot afford to give up huge leads early in ball games or else they will be out in the playoffs in a hurry.

Although the team has a high ERA, they have a bright spot in their starting rotation. Freshman Michael Knopf has emerged as a reliable pitcher and now is the face of the Brahmas’ starting rotation.

Knopf finished off his last three games of the regular season going 2-1 and during those three games had an overall ERA of 3.88.

Not only does his ERA stand out, but he is also getting noticed for pitching past the fifth inning in all three of his last games. Pierce will need Knopf to account for the lack of depth, which has hurt them throughout the season.

The thing that has been lacking most this season for the Brahmas is their fielding. Their infield has been a roller coaster ride throughout the whole season. Starting third baseman Alex Sawelson and shortstop Austin Peters combined for 32 errors the whole season with Peters accounting for 22 errors.

Head coach John Bushart, however, has stuck with Peters, who has made up for his inconsistent fielding by finishing the year hitting .341.

All things considered, the Brahmas success wasn’t improbable but there were indeed many questions. Out of Pierce’s 28 players, 20 of them were freshman. Also how would the Brahmas fare after starting pitcher Ritchie McWilliams went down with an early-season arm injury?

The Brahmas answered those questions by hitting the ball consistently and effectively and freshmen Joe Moran and Austin Peters proved that they could hold their own as starters.

Now the playoffs begin and it is a fresh start for everyone. The Brahmas will go on the road and face Cerritos College for a three game series. If Pierce’s defense can play with control and poise and the pitching can be good enough to keep the Brahmas in ball games, Pierce has as good of a shot as anyone in going deep this post-season.