Irvine, Calif. – Through the first month of the 2021 summer season, the Orange County Riptide displayed lots of talent from an array of young players who have earned a 10-6 record through the squad’s first sixteen games which ran from June 8th-30th.
Pitcher of the Month
When it comes to the Riptide pitching staff, opening day starter Noah Owen (Washington State) had the overall most impressive month of the group from start to finish. Head coach Mitch LeVier said before the season started that the pitchers were a bit of a question and that roles would have to be identified. Owen, a California native, certainly has earned himself a spot in the starting rotation.
Throughout June, Owen threw 13 innings, only allowed five earned runs, and struck out 21 with just three walks for a strong strikeout-to-walk ratio of 7:1. His best start came on June 24th against the MLB Academy when he struck out 10 Barons in five scoreless innings while scattering six hits over 21 batters faced.
Owen said that getting ahead in counts will all of the pitches he throws allowed him to be successful. Owen added that when he doesn’t get ahead in the count, it’s a 50/50 chance whether or not he gets batters out.
“When I get ahead [in counts], there’s a good shot I’m getting them out,” said Owen. “And I’ve been able to throw all four pitches early in counts as well.”
Levier said that he and the coaching staff were high on Owen entering the summer and thought he had a lot of potential within this summer’s team. Owen is a strike-thrower and LeVier said before the season that would be a key to success as a group.
“We got to see him a bit before the season, so we knew a bit about what we’d be getting from him,” said LeVier.
Hitter of the Month
Over the last month, the Riptide had a few position players put up impressive numbers at the plate such as catcher Eric Bigani (UNLV) who’s batting .333 with a home run, a dozen RBIs, and an .835 OPS. Consideration also was given to infielder Tyler Griggs (Central Arizona) who in only 24 June at-bats, hit .417 with an on-base-percentage of .533, an OPS of .991, and currently owns an eight-game hit streak.
But UNLV’s Jack-Thomas Wold separated himself as the Orange County’s top and most important hitter of the month. Wold is a mainstay in the top of the lineup with a team-leading 51 at-bats, a pair of home runs, nine RBI and slugs at an extremely high rate. Prior to a couple off games to end the month, Wold displayed consistent power and ability to get on base with a .357 average, .417 on-base, and a 1.012 OPS.
This spring at UNLV, Wold hit .429 which ranked sixth in the country with 12 homers and 43 RBI. He helped carry the Rebels to a team batting average of .333 which ranked third-best in the nation. He also got on base nearly every other time with a .491 on-base percentage, good for 31st in the country.
Wold said that having teammates with him from school has aided in a smooth transition between this past spring season at school and this summer.
“It’s really comfortable having three guys from your school in the lineup with you,” said Wold. “I had one of my [UNLV] guys behind me during batting practice the other day helping me out. It’s just nice to have people you’re familiar with and know how they play.”
Wold hit a small two-game slump to end June, but LeVier expects him to bounce back quickly in July inspired by a solid session of pregame batting practice on June 30th.
“We’re certainly looking to get him going again,” said LeVier. “He’s obviously a big part of our lineup and our plans with his abilities.”
Wold said that he’s looking to break out over the coming games and that he did a good job of adjusting to new things over the first month of the 2021 season.
“I think I did pretty well at the beginning of just adjusting to a wood bat and being on a new team,” said Wold. “I haven’t been executing as well as I’d like to so hopefully I can get back to doing that over the next few days.”
In Wold’s return to the lineup for July 1st’s 16-4 blowout win, he did just that with a 2-6 outing at the plate with an RBI.
The Riptide hit the road for two games starting July 2nd at 6:05 p.m. PST against the Arroyo Seco Saints. The teams last faced each other on June 27th when the Saints got a go-ahead eighth-inning run to win 5-4. The Riptide are 0-2 against Arroyo Seco this season so far.
The Riptide will then travel to Compton on Saturday to face the MLB Academy Barons before getting off days on July 4th and July 5th.
All Riptide home games are live-streamed on the OC Riptide YouTube Channel.