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Thursday, May 9, 2019

Scout Take: Loyola Marymount

Connor Spencer        
Photo: Nick Sogard (LMU Athletics)

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Loyola Marymount Lions

What Happened: LMU faced the first of two of their biggest threats in the WCC to close out the season and failed to win the series. With BYU, Gonzaga, USF and LMU gridlocked at the top of the West Coast Conference, these two final conference series with BYU and Gonzaga are imperative if they want to make the conference tournament (the WCC only takes the top four teams in a 10-team league). They appeared to be in good shape after Thursday when Codie Paiva provided them with another quality start and win, but they faltered on Friday and Saturday as the BYU bats came alive. On Friday, Josh Agnew was rolling until unforced errors from the LMU defense loomed too large for the Lions to overcome. Then on Saturday, Matt Voelker struggled as BYU exploded for a five-run fourth that the LMU offense had no answer for. As a result of the series loss, LMU fell into a tie for third place with San Francisco in the WCC standings.

Carrying Tool: Doing the little things right. LMU lacks the premier arms and top prospect bats that many of the other SoCal teams possess this season. However, they’ve found a way to win ballgames as showcased by a few high-profile wins against UC Santa Barbara, UC Irvine and series wins against USF and USD. The Lions play small ball well and they manage their pitching staff effectively.

Concerns: There are quite a few areas of concern for the Lions if they want to make a serious run. However, their largest looming area of concern is their offense, or lack thereof. They have a team batting average of .253 and they don’t have a bat in the lineup hitting over .315. Nick Sogard, Brandon Shearer and Trevin Esquerra provide consistency at the top of the order, but not enough to overcome their lack of impact bats from top to bottom. That said, Esquerra is having a big season with 14 home runs and a .606 slugging percentage and Sogard is about as steady as they come.

Best Player of the Field: Relief pitcher Nick Frasso and ace Codie Paiva have served as the backbone of this LMU Lions squad. Frasso is only a sophomore and is the highest valued prospect LMU currently has. He’s continuing to add onto a fantastic freshman campaign and currently has a 11.85 K/9 rate this season. Opposing hitters are batting a ridiculous .166 against him.

Fearless Forecast: After dropping their series to BYU, LMU's season comes down to how they fare during their final regular season series against second-place Gonzaga. As the way the season currently stands LMU would make the cut, and the team they're tied with (San Francisco) plays first-place BYU in Provo this weekend. However, Saint Mary's is within striking distance with two full WCC series to be played. Loyola Marymount doesn't have the W-L record (27-20) or the RPI rating (82) to earn an at-large bid, so making it to the West Coast Conference Tournament and winning it to secure an automatic bid is how their postseason hopes stack up. More than likely they're going to need some help for that to happen, but for now they continue to control their own destiny. A series win, and possibly a sweep, over Gonzaga will be necessary for LMU to advance.


Players covered: Nick Sogard, Trevin Esquerra, Josh Agnew, Matt Voelker.




Nick Sogard
Leadoff hitter and commander of the infield, Nick Sogard is having a nice year and has some pro upside. At short, he has the ability to throw from all slots across the diamond, has a simple approach to the ball and possesses soft hands. With only three errors on the season he’s proved that he can be a consistent workhorse in the infield.

At the plate, Sogard bats from both sides of the dish and his stance and swing are very similar from both sides. From the left side he has wide feet with an open stance that he crouches deep into. He uses sort of a bat twitch pre-pitch and holds his hands at a neutral position. His hands settle quickly going back and slightly down into his load, and he uses a small lift and stride towards the mound. The lefthanded batter’s box feels more like his natural home as his lower half and hands fire and move with more fluidity and ferocity. From the right side, his stance and swing are very similar, it just feels as though his lower half is slow to engage, and it causes his hands to lag through the zone.

The younger brother of MLB infielder Erik Sogard, this season Nick Sogard is hitting .315, and he’s a career .310 hitter at LMU. Although there isn’t much power to his game he’s a consistent ballplayer and athlete on both sides of the ball.


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