April 25, 2017 - West Coast League (WCL) - Walla Walla Sweets
Walla Walla, Wa -- The Lancers of California Baptist University are one of the top teams in Division II.
Sporting a 31-15 overall record (22-10 against conference competition in the PacWest), the Lancers are powered by one of the conference's best offenses, scoring over six runs per game.
A major force in that production is freshman first baseman John Glenn of Thousand Oaks, CA. A two-time all-league selection in high school, Glenn made a name for himself amongst some of America's best prep competition.
It was during this time that Glenn caught the attention of Sweets skipper Frank Mutz.
"John played for my summer team for three years and he was one of our better hitters," Mutz said. "He is, without a doubt, a division one hitter and he would be starting in the Pac-12 as a freshman. Cal Baptist really lucked out because John definitely a D1 guy."
Although he began the season batting toward the bottom of the Lancers' lineup, Glenn quickly earned a promotion to the middle of the order. Since the season's opening weeks, Glenn has entrenched himself as Cal Baptist's cleanup man.
The numbers speak for themselves. The six-foot left-hander ranks third on CBU's squad with a .329 batting average. His .503 slugging percentage ranks fourth and he's one of five Lancers to have accrued five home runs thus far.
Most noticeably, Glenn's 36 runs batted in are a team-high.
"He's a run producer. That's what he does," said Mutz. "He's going to be a guy, he'll step right into the three or four spot in our batting order when he gets [to Walla Walla]."
Last week, Glenn's two-run walkoff homer gifted Cal Baptist a 9-8 win in the first game of Friday's doubleheader over Hawai'i-Hilo.
"College pitching is different than high school pitching. Their ability to locate is better," said Glenn. "So I have to trust all the preparation I have put in and show it on the field. When I am going well, I am a see-it-and-hit-it type person."
Thanks in large part to Glenn's hot bat, the Lancers have won seven of their last eight. The winning started two weekends ago when they took three out of four from first-place Azusa Pacific, who was ranked third nationally at the time.
Glenn collected seven hits in the series.
"We knew that we were playing a team that was very confident but we knew that they had not played a team like us. When we trust the work we have put in as a team, we know that no team will beat us," Glenn said.
That confidence will help Glenn succeed as he makes the jump Division II to the West Coast League. And to help him in that transition, Glenn can lean on an old mentor.
"I have known Frank [Mutz] for a while now," he said, "He always encourages me. He helped me in the recruiting process and he was genuinely ecstatic when I made my commitment to Cal Baptist. He's a great man to be around on and off the field. The teams he coach always have a great vibe."
Another Lancer that coach Mutz will have at his disposal this summer is freshman right-hander Matt Amrhein.
Hailing from Upland, CA and Damien HS, Amrhein was an all-league pick his senior year as he helped Damien to a league title, contributing both as a shortstop as well as a pitcher.
In college, however, Amrhein has stuck to pitching. And judging by his freshman numbers, he's been doing a quality job on the mound.
In 10 games (all in relief), Amrhein has posted a 3-0 record plus one save. The young right-hander has pitched to a 2.63 ERA and surrendered just 20 hits in 24 innings.
He will get swings and misses - Amrhein has walked 14 and struck out 18.
He seems to be getting stronger as the season wears on. Amrhein hasn't allowed a run since April 6th. In the meantime, he's delivered 9.1 total innings of shutout baseball.
"He's a guy we're considering for the rotation, depending on how many innings he throws," said Mutz. "With summer teams, you always have to conscious of a guy's workload during his spring season. College teams don't want their pitchers getting to worn out. I know [Amrhein] is a guy that's pitched quite a bit as a freshman for CBU."
Mutz said Cal Baptist is planning on using Amrhein as a starter in 2018. He's thrown five innings in a game only once this season and the Sweets might provide an opportunity for Amrhein to get stretched out. If he can make multiple rounds through WCL lineups, he should have no problem doing the same in the PacWest.
"I would describe myself as a contact pitcher," Amrhein said. "I got a lot of ground balls. I throw two types of fastball - four-seam and two-seam - over the top as well as a curveball and a changeup. Then I drop down sidearm and throw a two-seamer and a slider. I attack hitters not to get swings and misses, but to get them to hit the ball on the ground."
Amrhein, who stands at an even six feet, generates downward action with his fastball, which sits in the upper-80s. If he can keep the ball on the ground consistently, he has the stuff to succeed in the WCL.
"We're focusing on bringing in guys that can throw strikes and [Amrhein] is definitely a strike-thrower," said Mutz. "If a guy is throwing strikes, his fielders stay engaged and the game moves quicker."
The Lancers have four games remaining on their schedule. After next week, they will see what they can do in the PacWest tournament. The way Cal Baptist has been playing over the last few weeks, it will be tough to beat in the postseason.
"We're always on the attack, never taking our foot off the gas pedal," said Amrhein. "I feel that we're showing our true potential and I'm excited to see how the rest of the season goes."
Regardless of how the postseason shakes out for CBU, the Sweets will be getting two top contributors from one of the hottest teams in Division II.
The details of the players signed:
John Glenn (Online Bio: https://tinyurl.com/m8ylv93) - 6'0"| 215 LBS | L/L | 1B
Matt Amrhein (Online Bio: https://tinyurl.com/kbeazd9) - 6'0"| 155 LBS | R/R | RHP