Saints baseball back in action as the 2023 season begins on Jan. 27
The baseball team embarks on its ninth season starting on Friday. Matt Piker takes over the reins after joining the program in 2021 as assistant coach.
The Saints finished with a 30-24 overall record last season. They posted a 21-11 mark in Red River Athletic Conference (RRAC) competition and lost to the University of Houston-Victoria (UHV) in the conference tournament to conclude the season. Piker filled the head coaching vacancy in early fall after Bryan Aughney left for a position in the Rio Grande Valley.
Former player Ryan Chapa joins Piker for the upcoming campaign. Chapa was named assistant coach in September after garnering multiple awards during his four years of playing. Josh Colunga was added to the coaching staff as a student assistant, and Adrian Gonzalez joined as a volunteer assistant. Both Colunga and Gonzalez previously played for the Saints as well. Cristopher Robinson returns for his ninth year as chaplain. Piker said, “My next move was to be in a head coaching position. Coach Aughney did a tremendous job of teaching me the program’s day-to-day operations.”
Nonconference schedule (Numbers after school indicate all-time records.) OLLU begins the season by hosting No. 19-ranked University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma (7-11) on Jan. 27-28. The schedule remains difficult the following weekend as No. 14-ranked Central Methodist University (6-12) arrives in San Antonio from Feb. 3-4. The Saints complete the first homestand by facing Ottawa University on Feb. 8 and Bethany College from Feb. 10-11. Piker commented, “We schedule these tough games because our goal is to be relevant at the national level.”
The Saints face two other nonconference opponents amid the RRAC schedule. The squad faces NCAA D2 St. Mary’s University (3-8) on the road on Feb. 21 and March 28. OLLU hosts NCAA D3 Schreiner University (1-1) on April 11 at 6 p.m.
The first two series of conference play are on the road for the Saints. They face UHV (23-14) in Victoria, Texas, from Feb. 17-18 and Texas College (23-2) in Tyler, Texas, from Feb. 24-25. The Saints return home to battle LSU-Shreveport (8-20) from March 3-4 and Texas A&M University-Texarkana (11-12) from March 10-11.
The Saints set out for four consecutive away series starting against Louisiana Christian University (2-1) from March 17-18. OLLU heads to Hawkins, Texas, next to play Jarvis Christian University (13-13) from March 24-25. LSU-Alexandria (12-14) hosts OLLU from April 7-8. The Generals won the RRAC Tournament last season to advance to the NAIA World Series. The Saints head back south for a three-game series against Huston-Tillotson University (17-2) in Austin, Texas, from April 14-15.
The last two series of the regular season are at home against Xavier University of Louisiana (3-1) from April 21-22 and the University of Southwest (18-9) from April 28-29.
The freshmen class consists of Vincent Banda, Will Eudy, Donovan Gamez, Jackson Kalisky, Chase Roberts, Roman Rodriguez, Matthew Sanchez, Diego Zuniga and Victor Zuniga. The transfer athletes are Dominique Boggs, Samuel Brown, Criztian Delgado, Chase Dunn, and Caimyn Holiday.
The Saints welcome back six sophomores. Devin Benavides, Brandon Betancourt, Christopher Perez, Hector Rogerio III, Anthony Valle and Jimmy Valle round out the class. The junior squad includes Jonathan LaCourse, Christian Martinez and D’Artagnan Perez-Padron.
OLLU welcomes back multiple veterans to the team. The senior leaders are Eric Cervantes, Javier De Alejandro, Sebastian Ledezma, Ram Maldonado, Alec Martinez, Francisco Martinez, Joshua Mendez, Pablo Montante, Jacob Montejano, John B. Ortega II, Noah Rodriguez, Tyler Vivier and Alejandro Ybarra.
Vivier and Montejano both hit above .300 last season. Noah Rodriguez led the team with 17 steals, and Francisco Martinez added 36 RBIs. Betancourt was named conference Freshman of the Year, while Montejano received Gold Glove recognition and was the team’s Champions of Character winner.
Piker is proud of his team’s accomplishments in the classroom. The team has consistently won NAIA Scholar Team recognition, earning a GPA of 3.0 and above. Those earning GPAs of 3.0 and above include Brandon Betancourt, Javier De Alejandro, Christian Martinez, Joshua Mendez, Pablo Montante, Jacob Montejano, John B. Ortega II, Christopher Perez, Noah Rodriguez, Hector Rogerio III and Alejandro Ybarra.
Saints fans will be greeted with new additions to the coaching staff and numerous fresh faces on the team. Piker said, “I hope we can put a good product out on the field for the fans. We have fans beyond family ties, and they are passionate and care about Saints baseball.” The Saints home games will be live-streamed on https://portal.stretchinternet.com/ollusaints/.