Baseball Q&A: Ben Rodriguez

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Redshirt junior first baseman Ben Rodriguez had a massive opening weekend for the Pepperdine baseball team, going 4-for-9 with two home runs in the first three games vs. St. Joseph's. He talks about his confidence at the plate, his belief in the team this year and about the trip the team will make to Texas during spring break. The Texas trip will consist of a three-game series against Texas A&M, a Tuesday game against Sam Houston State and a three-game series against Rice University.
Ben  Rodriguez

Q: You guys had a big sweep of St. Joseph's this past weekend to open up the season. How big is it to start the season off that way?

A: This is the first time that we have won on opening day in the four years that I have been here, so it is a big deal to get our team rolling with some wins, especially going into the stretch of baseball that we are about to go into. It is good to have that kind of confidence going into that big trip.

Q: You had a big weekend yourself. What made you so comfortable at the plate?

A: Just simplifying the game. Looking for quality pitches to hit, get the barrel of the bat on it, and slowing the game down. It is so important to stick to your own game plan and know what you are good at without trying to do everything. If you stick to your strengths, you are going to have success.

Q: Now that Brad Anderson and Manny Jefferson are gone, do you feel that you have any added roles, and trying to produce some extra power for the team?

A: No, not at all. Our depth, especially with power, is unbelievable. I think that everybody wants to get involved, and I would love to lead the charge, but we have so many bats, that it is not just on me, by any means.

Q: Who are some of the guys on the team that will be able to step into that role of bringing a little extra power to the team alongside you?

A: I think that everyone on the team can step into that role. This is one of the most talented teams that I have ever played for. We are just so deep at every position. Even at the top of the order, Quincy (McAfee) had one this weekend, (Matt) Gelalich is a strong, strong dude. And then getting to the middle of the order, (Jordan) Qsar and (Austin) Bernard are some big-time bats. We have a long season, and as the games come and the guys get more and more comfortable, I think that you are going to see guys step up and hit some bombs, especially in the middle of the order.

Q: Looking ahead, you have a big trip out to Texas. How important is this trip for the team?

A: It's very important. Something Coach Cooper (Fouts) told us yesterday really rang true. He said that we are all college baseball players at heart, and going into this week, if you love college baseball, you have to love this trip. We go to A&M and to Rice, which are two big-time perennial winning teams. It is definitely a chance to measure ourselves against a quality of baseball that we probably won't see again until the postseason.

Q: What are the team's expectations for the trip?

A: We definitely have high expectations. We have a winning culture in our clubhouse. The expectation is always to beat everyone we are playing. This is a big stretch of baseball, including, but not limited to, the Texas trip. When we get back we have Cal Berkeley, another strong team. We have a big three-week span coming up. We all expect to win, and a desire to win. We want to make sure we go out and represent Pepperdine and show teams that we are here to win, and win often.

Q: How important is it to play these big-time teams in the beginning of the season?

A: I think it is huge. It is so important to have games against real strong, tough opponents so that you can be battle-tested. Especially for the freshmen. The young guys coming in don't really know what big-time D1 baseball is all about yet. Our conference is going to be really competitive, but these two weeks are going to really show those guys what high-level college baseball is, because these are the types of teams we are going to be playing in regionals, super regionals, and into the College World Series.

Q: Going forward with the season, what can we expect from the Waves?

A: You can expect us to compete day in and day out. If it is fair to say that you can expect wins, then you can expect wins. I have confidence in this team to go out every single day and get better, and that is definitely going to produce a lot of wins for this program.

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