In the 2018 season, the Drovers would finish with a 46-8 record, which was 2nd best record in school history. During this season, the Drovers would put together two long winning streaks of 16 and 17 games. After the Drovers captured thier 17th win in a row, they set the school record for longest winning streak. The Drovers are led by head coach Mike Ross, as he is in his 10th season as the Drovers head coach. Ross has now won 40 games in 3 consecutive seasons. The Drovers started the season with assistant coach Rafael Pena, who in the middle of the season took a coaching job with the Quad Cities River Bandits, which is a minor league affiliate of the Houston Astros. After Pena left 2 former players, Hayden Sloane and Christian Perez took over to help coach Ross.
The last few year pitching has been a strong part of USAO’s game and this year was no different. The combined pitchers ERA was 3.85, and they held oppenents to a .231 batting average on the season. The pitching staff also racked up the strikouts, as they would tally 402 on the season. The starting pitcher were very dominate this season, in SR. Jose Hidalgo, SR. Francis Ventura, and SR. transfer Tucker White. Hidalgo would go 9-2 on the season and would finish with a 2.22 ERA, with 92 strikouts in 73 innings pitched. Ventura went 10-0 on the season, with a 4.44 ERA and 69 strikouts in 75 innings pitched. White would go 7-2, with a 3.92 ERA, and would register 71 strikouts in his 64.1 innings pitched. The bullpen for USAO was controlled by 2 main guys, in JR. Angel Reyes and SR. Corey Korenic. Reyes finished the season with a 4-1 record, with a 3.07 ERA and 11 saves on the season. Korenic went 4-1 on the season, with a 2.19 ERA and would account for 39 strikouts in 37 innings pitched. The Drovers two non-conference starters were Stephen Wright and Rudy Gonzalez. Wright went 5-1 with a 3.44 ERA, as he would finish the season with 52.1 innings pitched. Gonzalez went 2-0 with a 5.40 ERA, and would finish the season with 18.1 innings pitched.
The offense for the Drovers was very explosive all year-long, as they would rank 4th in team batting average with a .350 average, and would average 11 hits and 9 runs per contest. The Drovers offense was led by Shortstop P.J. Garcia, who hit .410 with 7 home runs and 50 RBI’s. Second basemen Kenniel Rivera hit . 389 with 9 home runs and 63 RBI’s. Catcher Coleton Horner hit .376, with 6 home runs and 40 RBI’s. Outfielder Greg Barnette would hit .371, with 9 home runs and 43 RBI’s. 3rd basemen Miguel Lorenzo would hit .361 on the season, with 8 home runs, and 43 RBI’s. 1st basemen Daniel Lafarga would hit .335, as he would lead the team in home runs with 12, and in RBI’s with 61. Catcher Alex Sanchez hit .339, with 8 home runs and 37 RBI’s. Outfielder Henry Rodriguez hit .317 with 30 RBI’s. Outfielder Stevie Thompson would hit .295 with 2 home runs, including the walk-off home run against Oklahoma City to win the conference, and he would also tack on 31 RBI’s during the season. The underrated hitter for the Drovers was, Brandon Shumway, as he would hit .407 with 5 RBI’s. In just 27 at-bats he would tally 11 hits.
This season the Drovers have 11 Seniors, in Francis Ventura, Henry Rodriguez, Stevie Thompson, Kenniel Rivera, Corey Korenic, Jose Hidalgo, Tucker White, Mason Stasyszen, Roberto Aldana, Greg Barnette, Stephen Wright. Thank you all the Seniors, and there commitment to USAO.
Head Coach Mike Ross said “I’m really proud of this team. They did a great job coming together and competing. They were fun to be around and I’m proud to have had the oppurtunity to coach them.”
Senior Mason Stasyszen said “Overall I thought we had a really good season, from a 45-6 regular season record to winning the conference tournament. Our season may not have ended the way we wanted it to, but it’s something that we shouldn’t put our heads down about. I enjoyed each and everyday with my teammates that turned into brothers for a lifetime. I’ll never forget the bonds I’ve created in my time that I’ve been apart of USAO. My favorite memories I’ve had since being here is winning the first two conference championships in school history and going to the World Series in back to back seasons. I’ll have memories for a lifetime from this program and I’m forever grateful for that. i wouldn’t have wanted to play college baseball anywhere else.“
Senior Jose Hidalgo said “The results were not what I expected, however I finish my collegiate baseball career with my head held high knowing that I did my best in each of the games. A moment I will never forget was last year in the world series when we won the first game in the world series. I am infinitely grateful to coach Ross for giving me the confidence and opportunity to be part of this family and play what I love the most. Grateful to my teammates for the friendship and trust they had in me at all times. And to my family for the unconditional support that they give me every time I need it.”