The New Kid on the Block, Christian Torres Looks to Guide UMBC to Their First America East Championship

The New Kid on the Block, Christian Torres Looks to Guide UMBC to Their First America East Championship

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Baltimore, Md. – 84.1 miles, 87.8 miles, 157 miles, 36.2 miles, 70.7 miles, 60 miles, 43.1 miles.

These are the distances from University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC) to the high schools of the UMBC baseball team's class of 2020. And then there is Christian Torres, a nice 1,092 miles away from his high school in Miami, Florida.

Yet, just like the weather during baseball season down at Miami Senior High School, Torres has been scalding hot for the team since mid-season, who are second in the America East Conference and looking to win their first conference championship.

Due to injuries, a void in the infield to fill left by graduating senior Kevin Lachance, and backed by an impressive fall, Torres was pushed into the spotlight as the starting third baseman for this young Retrievers' lineup.

"Christian is obviously a great young man, as he's gotten here in our program he started out by playing some shortstop for the first couple games, but really as he has made the move over to third base, it seems like it's his natural position," said head coach Bob Mumma, in his sixth season at the helm of the UMBC baseball team.

"He really has solidified the infield defense and has done a great, great job at third base. (As) he has gotten more at-bats, he has gotten comfortable at the plate and has had some really big hits for us over the past couple series," said Mumma.

Torres started the year off going 1-for-9 in the Lexington County vs. Cancer Tournament, but got rolling by hitting .300 over his next six games. He then put together an eight-game hitting streak, his first of two overall hitting streaks that went over five games this season. He is currently hitting .293 with 23 RBI, good for fourth-best on the team in hitting and third-best in RBI.

Torres is also fourth on the team in hits with 41.

Now that the team is finishing the conference slate of the season, with one more conference series left before the end of the season conference tournament, Torres' focus has been remarkable for such a young player. "I know conference is really the most important part of the season. You want to try your best in the conference, so it just happens that I do really well in conference because I go up there real confident with my game plan and try to get myself into a good mindset," Torres explained.

That mindset has helped lead UMBC to a 10-7 record in conference, with Torres hitting .406 and driving in 15 runs in conference play. More than half of his hits, runs, and RBI have come in conference play and he is riding a 11-game conference hitting streak. During the hitting streak, he is hitting .477 with four doubles and 11 RBI as the team is 7-4 during the streak.

What has been the most outstanding aspect of Torres' arrival here in Baltimore is not his stats or being a freshman starter, but his incredible transition from high school to college baseball and his progress through the season. He relayed that the prime difference between the two is the speed of the game. "The practices in the fall really helped, playing against each other, you kind of get an idea of what the adjustments are that you really have to make. Guys throw a lot harder, the game is a lot quicker, guys run a lot faster, but at the end of the day it is just baseball."

Coach Mumma went on to explain more about Torres' progress through the year saying, "I think what you see is he was a good player in the fall, but he's starting to get really comfortable with the college game. It's always a little different than high school, but he's locked down third base defensively, he understands how teams are trying to attack him at the plate, and he's having quality at-bat after quality at-bat and doing a really good job for us."

Torres has already won a pair of America East Rookie of the Week honors, coming in back-to-back weeks. He batted .444 (12-27) with five RBI, five runs scored, and three doubles during that two-week period. He is currently in the conversation for earning both America East Rookie of the Year honors and a spot on the America East All-Rookie Team.

The ceiling is high for the person that teammates call "Papi" with his potential growing with each game under his belt. Liam Bowen, the UMBC pitching coach and recruiting coordinator, went into more detail on the potential Torres possesses.

"He's certainly off to a good start, he's having a nice year. We knew he was a good player when we saw him play when he was a high school kid, so I'm not surprised. Christian has a lot of potential, he's a good worker, and if he continues to refine his game and work harder and harder.

"Christian is a guy that has a chance to have a very good four-year career in the same way that a number of guys have had over the past couple years."

The Retrievers have three games left on their schedule, with all three of those games against in-conference foe Stony Brook. The Retrievers are only two games behind the defending conference champs Binghamton, as Torres looks to keep his hot bat going and getting ready for his first taste of the post-season. "Being real competitive in the conference, just trying to get to a place where I could be in a competitive state (of mind)."

The conference tournament kicks off on Wednesday, May 24 at LeLacheur Park up in Lowell, Massachusetts.