The NCAA Division III baseball season opened on Saturday, March 13 for Oregon’s Lewis & Clark College, and junior third baseman Jack Thomson picked up where he left off.
Thomson was a native of Millbrae who graduated from St. Ignatius in 2018, and really warmed up in 2020 just before the season closed. On March 7, 2020, which turned out to be the penultimate day of the 16-game season, he homers three times in a double header split with George Fox University, giving him a team-leading four home runs to end the season.
“I can only imagine how many he would have had if he had a chance to end the season,” said Lewis & Clark boss Matt Kosderka.
One of three prominent Lewis & Clark players coming from San Mateo County – along with senior infielder Tyler Gannon (Burlingame) and senior pitcher Dominic Monozon (San Mateo) – Thomson woke up the Lewis & Clark lineup in last weekend’s season opener four-game series against visiting Whitman College.
Thomson went 4 for 11 with two home runs in the series while hitting safely in all four games. Lewis & Clark dropped three of the four, but it was Thomson who put the Pioneers on the board in their only win, a 9-7 comeback in the second game on Saturday’s twin bill on opening day.
Lewis & Clark managed just three hits in Game 1, a 9-1 loss, and then fell behind 5-0 early in the night. But in the third, Thomson triggered the comeback when he connected to a fastball over the outer third of the plate and sent a high-bow shot that sailed over the fence in the left midfield. The next day he clubbed a grand slam in a 14-8 loss.
“It’s definitely part of my tools now,” Thomson said. “I’m definitely more of a power guy than in my first year or when I went to high school.”
In addition to 40 kilos since last year at St. Ignatius – where he only hit one home run in two years with varsity baseball – Thomson has also refined his punching mechanics, and taken some loft out of the turn to keep the bat’s head flat in an attempt. to add more backspin.
The results are clear. After St. Ignatius, where he posted a career duration of 0.403, he opened his collegiate career by slugging .341 as a first-year student in 2018. Last year, he raised his slugging percentage to 0.580; and this year, through the first four games, he has a thriving 1,091 starts.
“When he connects, there is a different type of connection,” Kosderka said. “He is a copy and a person to look at. It’s very strong, very powerful … so when he turns, he has a chance to leave the park at any time. ”
Thomson said he almost chose to give up playing college baseball. His older sister Katie, who was a prep softball standout at St. Ignatius, chose to focus on academics by going to the University of Oregon. Thomson almost followed in his sister’s footsteps until he had a heart to heart with his parents about the opportunity to play at the next level.
After starting college, it was not long before Kosderka sold him on his small private school program in Portland, Oregon. It was not until Thomson arrived on campus that he learned that there were two other players on the roster who grew up in neighboring countries in his hometown.
“It was really coincidental,” Thomson said. “I did not even know that they were on the team until I came up here. Honestly, I was not even 100 percent supposed to play college baseball. But my coach got hold of me and really sold me on the program. … It ended up being the best decision ever. ”
Thomson did not exactly receive a warm welcome at the beginning of his collegiate career. That was because when the pioneers arrived at their home opener in 2019, the diamond at Roy Helser Field was covered in snow.
So obviously the Pioneers beat the game, right? No.
“Our coach said just take a few shovels and start shoveling,” Thomson said.
This was the silver lining for Lewis & Clark’s season which started over a month later than normal this season.
“Usually we start in early February and we start in 20 degree weather,” Thomson said. “So this was actually nice because it was 50 and sunny.”
Monozon served as the opening day starter this year and is still looking to fulfill its promise as Pioneers’ no. 1-starter, a role he has served for the past three years. He has seen his share of setbacks and fights, and missed most of his freshman year in 2018 due to an arm injury. Towards the end of last season, he injured his arm. He has set a career record of just 2-12.
“He is healthy,” said Kosderka. “He is able to get the number counting up. We were not sure it was going to happen, and I do not think he was either. ”
The speed of right-handers has dropped a notch, Kosderka said.
“But he throws a pretty heavy fastball, and a good combination of a basket and a slider,” he said. “So, he always has a chance to go out and shut the guys down.”
Gannon has emerged as a regular mid-order presence for Lewis & Clark, and the right-handed hit slugger was fully prepared when the 2020 season was canceled. The senior hit safely in nine of the 11 games he started last year, including five multi-hit games. He went on to hit .378 with a slugging percentage of .568.
“He had an incredible year for us last year,” Thomson said. “He’s one of those guys who can flatten it out. So it’s absolutely nice to have him turn in the lineup behind me. It is good protection. ”
But with Thomson hitting number 2, he is still at the heart of Pioneer’s batting order, according to Kosderka.
“Jack has been a big part of our team,” said Kosderka. “And I think every team that plays plans for our team game, No. 1.”