San Diego

The best baseball team nobody is talking about: USD Toreros embracing underdog role as NCAA Tournament nears

San Diego might be the best team in the nation nobody is talking about

San Diego Baseball

In their final series of the regular season the University of San Diego baseball team knew they had a chance to win the West Coast Conference title if they won all three games, regardless of what anyone behind them in the standings did. They won their first two games and on Saturday, a few folks from the WCC came out on the field to start a celebration.

The Toreros reaction was not what you'd expect, but exactly what you'd want.

"We knew that we were in position to win it but we thought that we had to sweep to win it outright,'" says senior closer Conner Thurman. "So they come out Saturday after we won with the banners and the hats and shirts and were were like ... put this away. We're not done. The job's NOT finished. That's the mentality of this team."

A talented team with a champion's mentality is a dangerous thing, indeed, especially when people are overlooking it.

In the last several NCAA Top 25 Baseball polls USD has been sitting in the "Others Receiving Votes" category but hasn't been elevated to the point where they get a number next to their name, begging the question:

What else do these guys have to do to get some national recognition?

Over their last 30 games the Toreros are 27-3. Yes, a college baseball team that has won 90% of its games over the last two months and won its conference championship outright ... one with the 11th-best team ERA in the country to go with a top-30 offense ... is somehow still not viewed as one of the best 25 teams in America. It's probably convenient to say it's an East Coast bias but in this case it's also warranted.

14 of the top 25 teams are in the SEC or ACC and only five programs are located west of the Mississippi River. USD is looking to change the lack of California love.

"We kind of feel a little chip on our shoulder to prove every day when we go out to play that we do belong with some of those SEC and ACC teams. We want to do it for San Diego. We take really big pride in doing it for the city and being one of the best teams on the west coast," says Thurman.

The Toreros are using their relative anonymity as a form of motivation.

"Personally, I think it's fun playing the underdog," says outfielder Jakob Christian, the WCC Player of the Year. "I think we've got that going for us. We've got something to prove."

Every moment of every day they're at the field this team is competing. They have games of SlamBall, they play Pepper, they even compete at cards. It's one of those special groups where everyone gets along and that kinship translates to the diamond.

"I think if you look at University of San Diego baseball there's not a program in the U.S. that has more fun than we do," says senior captain Will Worthington. "I think we know when to lock in but also when to have fun. We play a game, at the end of the day, that's supposed to be fun. You want to wake up being excited about what's ahead. This program has done an amazing job of making us eager to show up at the ballpark and get better."

How much better can they get?

"If we take it day by day and do the things we're supposed to do, I would love us in Omaha," says Thurman.

That is certainly not out of the realm of possibility. But first, they open the WCC Tournament on Thursday against Gonzaga. If they plow through this event there's an outside chance, with their top 25 RPI ranking, the Toreros could host one of the 16 NCAA Regionals. How much fun would that be?

Contact Us