Baseball: Jorge Rodriguez signs with Chico State University

Jorge Rodriguez finished second on the team in batting
Jorge Rodriguez finished second on the team in batting

Cerritos College sophomore third baseman Jorge Rodriguez, who earned 2nd Team All-South Coast Conference South Division honors, has signed a National Letter of Intent with Chico State University. Rodriguez, a two-year starter, finished second on the team with a .337 batting average, while sharing the team lead in hits (60) and doubles (12). He is the third Falcon to have signed with a school, as sophomore shortstop Ramon Bramasco signed with College World Series-bound University of Washington prior to the start of the season. Additionally, sophomore outfielder Rollie Nichols will also be transferring to the University of Washington as a walk-on. Pitcher/outfielder Jakob Gonzalez has already signed with Oklahoma Baptist University, as well.

"I chose Chico State because it seemed like the best fit for me," said Rodriguez. "I fell in love with the campus and the field. The coaching staff reminded me a lot of Cerritos while I was on my visit. The plan that they had going forward really drew my attention, and really sold me on being a Wildcat."

Rodriguez, who was also in contact with The Masters University, Minot State University and the University of Arkansas at Monticello, decided Chico State because he felt it was the best fit for him. He is the second player in the last two years to sign with Chico State, with Mike Heenan serving as a red-shirt last season. Rodriguez also said that conference Pitcher of the Year Gilbert Romero will also be signing with Chico State and the two will serve as roommates.

Jorge Rodriguez will be the third baseman at Chico State next season The Falcons captured the title of the South Coast Conference South Division and earned the #1-seed for the Southern California Regional Playoffs. After disposing of Los Angeles Pierce College in two games in the first round, Cerritos saw their season abruptly come to an end when they were upset by El Camino College in the Super Regional. The loss not only ended the season, but marked the end the head coach Ken Gaylord's career, who announced his retirement.

"The thing I'll remember most about (playing at Cerritos) is the bond I shared with everyone," added Rodriguez (pictured, left). "The sophomores had a tight bond and we knew the struggles we went through the year prior and built from that. The freshmen bought into 'The Bird Way' and everyday was a competition to see how we can get better. We really got closer as the year went on. This was easily one of the best teams I've ever played on. The level of grit and never-die attitude really helped us turn our losses from my freshman year to wins this past year. At the end of the day, my teammates turned into my brothers and every day was a battle that we knew we could have won."

"Playing for Coach Gaylord was truly an honor," continued Rodriguez. "I learned a lot from playing under him. He helped me better understand and appreciate the fundamentals of the game and the importance of practicing them. He taught me the importance of execution and really to play without a fear or care in the world. Granted, we didn't get to finish where we would have liked, but we got a conference title and left a new sort of legacy that could possibly restart a new age for Birds baseball. Coach Gaylord drove in the fact that "Once A Falcon, Always A Bird" meant something."

Rodriguez and Romero will be joining a Wildcats team that went 31-24 on the year and saw them qualify for the NCAA Division II Championship West Regional. Their season came to an end after losses to both Cal State Monterey Bay and Azusa Pacific University in their first two games.

Joining the team next season, Rodriguez hopes to play multiple infield positions, but is looked upon to being the team's starting third baseman at the start of the season. Romero is looking to fill one of the seven pitching spots available due to graduation.

"When I worked out for them, they said I'll most likely be the starting 3B," said Rodriguez. "I do plan to move around the entire infield in hopes to becoming a super utility. For now it seems that I'll be playing 3B and possibly keeping my lead off role (in the batting order), but they might have me hit third or possibly fifth."