Pitching has played a huge part in Westmont’s success on the baseball field this season.
The Warriors are currently 35-6 and ranked sixth in the NAIA national poll. They have eight regular-season games remaining.
“We’re in really good position for the conference tournament and the national tournament,” said head coach Robert Ruiz at Monday’s Santa Barbara Athletic Round Table Press Luncheon. “It’s been a really fun ride this year with this team. Our pitching was our concern because we had two significant injuries the first time I reported to this group, and our pitching has been fantastic all season.
“So, young guys have stepped up into bigger roles, and that’s been really promising to see.”
Ruiz credits coach Dan Yokubaitis as a big reason for the Warriors’ success on the mound.
Yokubaitis, a technology teacher at Bishop Diego, has been around local baseball for a long time. He was the head coach at Dos Pueblos and Bishop Diego, served as pitching coach for the Santa Barbara Foresters and was Westmont’s pitching coach from 2007-2009.
He returned to the Warriors’ staff ahead of the 2020 season.
Yokubatis was an All-American pitcher at UCSB and was taken by the San Francisco Giants in the 11th round of the 1983 amateur draft. He played three years of professional baseball.
“He has just done a fantastic job with a young group of starting and relief pitchers this year,” said Ruiz. “I don’t even know if everybody knows that he’s up there with us. But he’s been up there since COVID hit and he’s doing a great job with our pitchers.”
Ruiz was headed down to Dodger Stadium on Monday afternoon to catch the Freeway Series opener between the Dodgers and Angels and see his former player Michael Stefanic start in the infield for the Angels. He played second base.
After a stellar four-year college career at Westmont, Stefanic has worked his way up in the Angels’ organization from a free agent signee in 2018 to the brink of making it to the major league club.
He went 2-for-4, with a double and a RBI single, in the Angels’ 10-4 victory.