By Ruben Ayala III

The 2020 MLB season was going to be one of the most anticipated and interesting seasons in years and due to an unfortunate virus the season probably won’t be played or at the most it would be a much deteriorated version of what was expected. The 2019 season ended with the Washington Nationals winning their first championship in franchise history and immediately following their victory word came out about the Houston Astros and Boston Red Sox having cheated in their championship winning seasons as well in 2018 and 2017. The entire offs eason was filled with players’ and fans resentment toward those two teams and the fans that wouldn’t accept what their teams did. The 2019 off season also had one of the best free agent classes in recent years and there were many high profile players on the trade block and that would be traded. We saw stars like Gerrit Cole and Anthony Rendon leave their respective teams and join new ones and probably the biggest shock of the 2019 off season was the Dodgers trading for Mookie Betts one of the brightest stars today.

The 2019 season ended on what could be considered a David and Goliath scenario as the Washington Nationals came into the 2019 postseason as not particular favorites in most peoples mind as the NL boasted teams like the Dodgers, Cardinals, and Braves. Many would say those teams were a better bet to go far into the playoffs and have a chance of winning a championship. The Nationals had entered the last week of May with a record of 19–31 and after getting healthy and playing good baseball from May 24th on they found themselves in the N.L. Wild Card game against the Milwaukee Brewers. The Brewers had kept control of the game early and entering the 8th inning held a 3–1 lead, even with only a two run lead it all looked to be in the Brewers favor. Brewers closer, Josh Hader, was put in to get the last several outs, but after a hit by pitch, a hit, and a walk, Juan Soto would come up to the plate and begin his playoff legend and put the Nationals on top 4–3 to ultimately win the game!

The Dodgers came into the postseason once again cruising to their seventh straight N.L. West title and having posted the best record in franchise history with an 106 win season. Even with the Nationals boasting a formidable team of their own many thought the Dodgers would still be too much to bare. Despite doubts from the beginning the Nationals battled with the Dodgers and got it to a loser goes home game 5. Game 5 started off great for the Dodgers who were able to get on Stephen Strasburg for three runs and Buehler threw 7 innings of one run ball. Dave Roberts would remove Buehler with two outs in the 7th and bring in Clayton Kershaw a man with a widely known reputation for his postseason struggles.

Kershaw got the left handed hitting Adam Eaton easily to end the 7th, but then the problem arose when he was left in to face Anthony Rendon and Juan Soto who took him back to back on consecutive pitches to tie the game at 3–3. The game would go an extra inning and in the 10th inning with the bases loaded Howie Kendrick would come to the plate vs. Joe Kelly. Kendrick had an ugly series defensively speaking with a few errors in the series. With one swing he could erase all that and with an 0–1 pitch he did three things: became a Nationals legend, put a smile on every Angel fans face that once watched him, and simultaneously ripped out the hearts of every Dodger fan. The Nationals would slay the giant that was the Dodgers by a score of 7–3 and would go on to handle the Cardinals in the NLCS and beat the Astros in a back and fourth World Series.

If losing a World Series wasn’t bad enough for the Astros, word immediately came out that they used a sophisticated system to steal signs during the championship winning season in 2017. That sophisticated system was banging on a trash can and using a center field camera to let hitters know what pitches were coming, particularly off-speed pitches. Once this news broke the Astros immediately became the new villain among the league and among the fans. Everybody immediately couldn’t wait for the upcoming season to participate in the booing tour that the Astros would go on, especially after most of the baseball fanbase wasn’t happy with their punishments and their forced apologies that weren’t good to begin with. Many also were going to tune in to see if any teams would take it into their own hands especially since multiple teams spoke out against them and many of the biggest stars didn’t hold back on how they felt, among them included the best player in the game in Mike Trout, who doesn’t say anything controversial.

Among all the chaos with the Astros and Red Sox who were also in their own cheating scandal there was nothing but action when it came to free agent signings and multiple trades among teams. The 2019 offseason had some of the best talent available on the open market in years and while not every free agent went somewhere a majority of them did. The three biggest targets this offseason were Gerrit Cole, Stephen Strasburg, and Anthony Rendon and multiple teams were in the running for their services throughout the offseason. Strasburg eventually joined back up with the world champion Nationals and Gerrit Cole seemingly shocked everybody in the baseball community as he signed a 9 yr. deal with the New York Yankees worth 324 million dollars, making him the richest pitcher ever in the game. Another particularly surprising signing was that of Anthony Rendon’s who chose to sign with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim for 7 yrs and 245 million dollars.

Other deals like Zack Wheeler going to the Phillies as well as teams like the Reds and the Chicago White Sox bolstering their rosters by making multiple moves made many fandoms around the league very excited and just itching to have some baseball already. Arguably the biggest move in the 2019 offseason wasn’t even a free agent signing or anything. It was the huge three team deal that moved Mookie Betts and David Price to the Dodgers. Talks about Mookie Betts being moved was going around all throughout the offseason and it looked like he’d at least stay at least one more year in Boston as he agreed on his arbitration clause and signed the richest arbitration number in history. The MLB offseason seemingly had every fanbase excited for the direct future and or more having more hope for the future when it came to teams like the Orioles and Royals.

At last, baseball was beginning to be played in late February and everybody got a glimpse of all the new free agent gets and new faces all around the league. Fans got to see Gerrit Cole for the first time as a Yankee and Angel fans were enjoying having a brand new 3rd baseman that basically picked up where he left off by making a great first impression on all fronts. We saw Mookie Betts in a Dodger uniform for the first time. The Astros were already getting a baragge of boos. Baseball was officially back and fans couldn’t be any happier.

Sadly, it wasn’t meant to last as a virus came and not only stopped baseball from being played, but stopped everybody from living their daily normal lives which for many included keeping up with and watching sports. It doesn’t seem like a season will be played this season, and that’s unfortunate, but people will definitely appreciate the game and other sports a little more when they return as during its absence people have realized what impact they have on us. It’s unfortunate that we will lose what would have been one of the most anticipated seasons ever, but its important to get rid of this virus first and once we do that we will once again be able to enjoy the greatest game in the world. Till then we should take the precautions necessary and protect one another so we can get back to normal as quick as possible. Baseball as well as other sports will be back and when they do fans will cherish it that much more.

Who knew the 2002 Angels would be a hotbed of future college head coaches?

UC Riverside announced Troy Percival as its new head coach on Tuesday, taking over for the retired Doug Smith. Percival becomes the second ’02 Angel to land a head job at a D-I program, joining Darin Erstad of Nebraska. Like Erstad, Percival is returning to his alma mater, where he’s the most prominent baseball alumnus. The 44-year-old played 14 seasons in the majors, 10 with the Angels, racking up 358 career saves to rank ninth all-time. Percival was a four-time all-star and had 40 saves with a 1.92 ERA for the Angels’ 2002 World Series-winning team. He last pitched in the majors with the Rays in 2009. Since retiring, Percival has worked as a high school coach and spent one season as a roving instructor in the Angels’ system.

The CIF Southern Section (CIF-SS) is the governing body for high school athletics in most of Southern California and is the largest of the ten sections that comprise the California Interscholastic Federation (CIF). Its membership includes most public and private high schools in Orange, Los Angeles, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura, Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo, Mono and Inyo counties, as well as a small portion of Kern County.

Orange Crest Pony League


College Baseball is baseball that is played on the intercollegiate level at institutions of higher education.  college competition in the United States plays a smaller role in developing professional players, as baseball's professional minor leagues are more extensive.  Moving directly from high school to the professional level is more common in baseball than in football or basketball.  If players enroll at a four-year college, they must complete three years to regain eligibility, unless they reach age 21 before starting their third year of attendance. Players who enroll at junior colleges (i.e., two-year institutions) regain eligibility after one year at that level, Bryce Harper being a notable example. In 2013, there are 298 NCAA Division I teams in the United States.  most college baseball is played under the auspices of the NCAA or the NAIA. College and university baseball teams that are club teams are organized under the National Club Baseball Association.
Assistant Baseball Coach Bryson LeBland, the highlight of my experience at UCR is a tough question to answer because there have been so many highlights. My first year in 2012 at UCR we took 2-of-3 in a series at Cal State Fullerton. It was the first time they had lost a home conference series in years.
Fast forward two years and we did the same thing again in 2014. Drake Zarate had five RBIs in the series finale on Sunday  - Mother's Day - as we beat the Titans in 11 innings.

Then there was Eddie Orozco striking out 15 against Sacramento State in a 1-0 game on a Friday Night...

Also, in his final game at The Plex - and what turned out to be Doug's Smith final home game as well - Devyn Bolasky ended the game with a walkoff home run – just the second home run of his career. We were winning, but in the top of the ninth Grand Canyon hit a homer to take a one-run lead. In the bottom of the ninth, we got a guy on and Bolasky hit one out over right center.

There was also the time we were down 9-3 after the fifth inning in 2013 against San Diego. We ended up winning the game 12-11. We scored in every inning from the third on and the game ended with a check swing by Clayton Prestridge just past the diving second baseman of USD in the 10th.

However, last year could top it all. We took 2-of-3 from the No. 10 team in the nation to end the season.  The winning pitchers were fourth-year and sixth seniors Kevin Sprague and Joie Dunyon. What a way for them to end their careers. Just shows the beauty of baseball. Any given day…..But above all else, being with the student-athletes day in and day out is certainly a highlight.

My vision for UCR Baseball is simple. It's been nine years (2007), since we made an NCAA Regional. With the way recruiting is going and the momentum the program is gaining through Coach Percival, I believe that we can get back there. I believe we have the ability to be in the top half of the conference every year. For baseball, the Big West Conference is one of the best in the nation. I don't see why we cannot be one of the top teams in the league.Baseball is a player-driven game and the scholarships that the Athletics Association helps fund allows us to recruit the student-athletes that we feel will win not only on the field but in the classroom and in life as well.  

This season, I am most  looking forward to watching our student-athletes compete. They have worked extremely hard both in the classroom and on the field. They have put the "hay in the barn." It is now time to put on uniforms and play someone different. I am looking forward to looking into their eyes as they compete. That is always the best part.

It is important to UCR and the Baseball Program because of what they have given me. I feel like I have grown so much in my time here - not only as a coach but as a person. In my four and ½ years at UCR I got engaged, married and had my first child. (I married Andria and we had Christian.) Looking back it is a lot to take in, but it has been a blast.

Professionally, UCR has done great things for my career. I was the volunteer at the University of Oregon before I came to UCR. This program gave me a chance to live out my dream of being a full-time Division I baseball coach, in one of the best conferences in the nation. Every day I grow both as a person and as a coach because of the people I am surrounded by. I will always be grateful and indebted to UCR.

Something people might not know about me is that I am from New Orleans and I am a huge Saints fan. My accent is not fake. It is real. LOL. In fact, with it being the 50th anniversary of the Super Bowl, the NFL is counting down its 50 top plays. Coming in 14th was the Saints onside kick at half time and at number 10 is Tracy Porter's 'Pick 6' to seal the game. Two of the top 15 plays for a team that has only played in one Super Bowl in franchise history. Not Bad!!  I remember those two plays like it was yesterday. That was a fun day.

I feel like I have had three mentors in my coaching career, and I will list them in the order that I worked with them in my career.  I worked for George Horton for four years at the University of Oregon. I think the thing I learned the most from him is organization. He is the most organized and prepared person that I have ever been around. And if you are around him, you better be too! So if you ever see me carrying around a little steno pad, you know where I got it from.

My second mentor is Doug Smith. I think what I learned from Coach Smith the most is that you can't always play the percentages. Sometimes in life in order to win big, you have to be willing to lose big. He had a lot of courage. I remember asking him a few times "you think that's going to work" and he'd reply "we will find out in 30 seconds won't we." It gave you a sense of freedom being around someone with that kind of courage and confidence.

And the third is my present head coach, Troy Percival. Being around Coach Percival every day, I now know the meaning of the question "do you love to win or do you hate to lose?" Coach Percival is the most competitive man I have ever been around. He absolutely hates to lose, whether it is in ping pong (especially to me and Coach Johnson!!), cards or baseball. It does not matter. It is infectious. You cannot help but to be more competitive and more driven in everything you do when you are around Coach Percival daily.

With all that said, each of the head coaches that I have worked with have a few things in common. First and foremost, all three love their players, immensely. They would do anything for them. And secondly, they are all great coaches. They know the game backward and forward, yet they all manage it their own unique way. And lastly, all three took a chance on me and for that I will be forever thankful.


Youth baseball is played by elementary-school-age and high-school-age children of both genders. Of the various leagues listed below, Little League baseball is the most widespread and the Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, draws participants from around the world and is televised in the US on ESPNAmateur baseball is a form of baseball in which the players either are not paid for playing.  Amateur baseball is played in the United States by players of all ages, from young children to adults.


California Interscholastic Federation 

(CIF) River Valley League

Riverside Poly Highschool "Bears"

J.W.North Highschool  "Huskies"

Arlington "Lions"

King Highschool "Wolves"

Notre Dame 

Ramona Highschool "Rams"

La Sierra Highschool

Jurupa Valley High School, La Sierra High School, Norte Vista High School, Patriot High School and Hillcrest Highschool