CSUSM Baseball Plays First Home Game on New Field, January 28

Kicking off their fifth season on Friday, January 28, CSUSM baseball will play its first home opener on the University’s new baseball field, which is located on the northwestern edge of the 304-acre campus. Friday’s pre-game festivities, which include a catered tailgate sponsored by University Student Union Advisory Board, will begin at 1:30 p.m. CSUSM President Karen Haynes, along with the four key individuals who made the project possible, will throw the first pitch.

Since the baseball program’s inception in 2007, the team has had to rely on alternative offsite facilities for practice and games. Home games were previously held at local high school fields throughout North County.

“We’ve had an entire class of athletes graduate that were never able to step foot on their own field,” CSUSM Athletics Director Tom Seitz said. “We’re glad to finally bring the games and practices to campus and give our students a field to call home.”

Up until just one year ago, CSUSM softball had been in the same position as baseball, practicing and competing at offsite locations. In early 2010, the softball team proudly played on its new field for their first home game on campus, beating University of Redlands 6-1. The win signified a promising year for the University’s softball program. The home field advantage reflected strongly in the team’s performance, ending their 2010 season ranked fifth in the nation with 40-15 record. To date, 2010 has been the team’s most successful season in the history of CSUSM softball.

This year the baseball team plans to experience the same benefits of a home field advantage. With a roster size of 32, the team will play about 50 games this season, which kicks off against Vanguard University, followed by Point Loma, San Diego Christian, Cal Baptist, and Azusa Pacific in the coming weeks. More than half of the team’s regular season games will be played on CSUSM’s new home field.

“Having a top-notch field on campus is a big step forward for our team as well as for prospective student-athletes,” said shortstop and right-handed pitcher Johnny Omahen. The six-foot senior, who is majoring in kinesiology with a minor in communication, came to CSUSM from Granite Hills High School to play baseball as a freshman in 2007.

“It’s been a long time coming, but the field brings recognition to our team, our facilities, and our campus,” he added. “We’re building a local sports atmosphere in North County, and I’m excited to see this year’s fans come out and watch us play on our home field.”

The process of transforming the formerly weeded field into a collegiate baseball park was made possible through the generous support of private donors, many of whom are parents of current players. Plumbing contractor John Omahen, general contractor Henry Coleman, and Richard Hunter, president and CEO of a local irrigation manufacturer, donated labor and materials to expedite the project.

“The field would not have become a reality without their support,” Seitz explained. “They donated their time, labor, and resources to help bring the team and their games to campus and their expertise was exactly what we needed to make this happen.”

Construction for the field began in the summer with rough grading, followed by irrigation installation and the laying of top soil. The project encountered some slight setbacks due to the area’s drainage and subsurface issues, which were further complicated by record rainfall in the month of December.

Measuring 400 feet in the center and 375 feet in the gaps, the large field will favor strong running teams and, with the afternoon coastal breeze blowing along the field’s first baseline, left-handed hitters could see some added distance in right field, said Coach Dennis Pugh.

With the first phase of the baseball diamond completed, plans are in the works for the second phase of development, which include more fan-friendly amenities. Among the plans is permanent stadium seating, restrooms, concession stands, a press box, and outdoor sports lighting. Naming opportunities are available for the baseball field and the planned amenities, as well as signage and advertising space on the outfield and scoreboard.

Also on the horizon for CSUSM Athletics is the anticipated move to the NCAA Division II, which would place the team in the California Collegiate Athletic Association to compete against 12 public universities in the state of California. Currently, the CSUSM baseball team is an independent member of the NAIA.

“To finally be on campus and have the home field advantage is everything,” said Seitz. “We hope our campus and surrounding community will come out to support our players, see the new field, and celebrate the incredible growth and momentum of CSUSM.”

With limited seating at the opening game, guests are encouraged to bring a chair. Complimentary parking, which has been generously provided by CSUSM Athletics, will be available in lot Z, located off South Twin Oaks Valley Road across from Campus Marketplace.

See the Cougars in Action at an Upcoming Home Game at CSUSM:

   Fri., Jan. 28 -- 2:00 p.m. vs. Vanguard
   Tues., Feb. 1 at -- 2:00 p.m. vs. Point Loma
   Sat., Feb. 5 -- 11:00 a.m. vs. SD Christian (DH)
   Fri., Feb. 11 -- 2:00 p.m. vs. Cal Baptist
   Fri., Feb. 18 -- 2:00 p.m. vs. Azusa Pacific
   Fri., Feb. 25 -- 11:00 p.m. vs. La Sierra (DH)
   Mon., Feb. 28 -- 2:00 p.m. vs. Biola
   Mon., March 7 -- 2:00 p.m. vs. Concordia
   Tues., March 8 -- 2:00 p.m. vs. SD Christian
   Sat., March 12 -- 11:00 a.m. vs. Pacifica College (DH)
   Sun., March 20 -- 12:00 p.m. vs. Sioux Falls (DH)
   Wed., March 23 -- 1:00 p.m. vs. Sioux Falls
   Fri., March 25 -- 12:00 p.m. vs. SW College (DH)
   Sat., March 26 -- 12:00 p.m. vs. SW College (DH)
   Mon., March 28 -- 2:30 p.m. vs. Concordia
   Tues., April 19 -- 12:00 p.m. vs. Masters (DH)
   Thurs., April 21 -- 3:00 p.m. vs. Westmont College
   Sat., April 23 -- 11:00 a.m. vs. Chapman (DH)
   Mon., April 25 -- 3:00 p.m. vs. Azusa Pacific

(DH) denotes Double-Header game

The process of transforming the formerly weeded field into a collegiate baseball park was made possible through the generous support of private donors, many of whom are parents of current players.