The Cougars 2020 baseball season is underway and the team looks notably improved going 9-6 through their first 15 games, already almost reaching last years win total of 11. The story of the season so far is undoubtedly Kyle Manzardo who’s riding a 15 game hit streak en route to slashing .431/.500/.655. Manzardo’s hot start hasn’t exactly come out of nowhere, last year as a true freshman he started 45 games and hit .272/.335/.364. Those are solid numbers for a freshman but Manzardo wasn’t walking very often or hitting for very much power, two things you look for in a designated hitter and first basemen. While there’s still room for improvement with walks, he’s only taken 6 all season, that’s more inconsequential when you’re hitting .431.
Manzardo tapped into his power in the Cougs most recent series against Niagara making it the strongest for both the team and himself. Manzardo hit two home runs in this series alone, matching his entire total for the 2019 season. The team went 4-0 outscoring Niagara 47-16 and Manzardo hit a blistering .555/.619/1.000.
There are of course caveat’s to this performance, according to RPI Niagara is the 234th ranked team out of 301 division one programs. While this is important to consider it’s hard to fault the Cougs for doing exactly what they should do, beat up on teams with inferior talent. Over their last 11 games, the Cougs are scoring 7.6 runs per game and if Manzardo can stay hot there’s hope that the team can maintain a similar output when they face harder competition. Last season, according to wsucougars.com, he recorded a hit in all three games against 9th ranked Arizona State in addition to a pair of three-hit games against 1st ranked UCLA.
The Cougs next three opponents Gonzaga (5-10), Cal (4-11), and CSU Bakersfield (5-9) are also not having their best years and provide a great opportunity to ride this hot streak. The team’s biggest test of the season comes March 20-22 when the face-off in a three-game series against UCLA, ranked No. 5 by D1Baseball.com and No. 1 by RPI.