For someone who doesn’t like to win and lose, Mike Curran has been winning a lot lately.
His Olone College baseball team (Fremont) is on a 34-game winning streak — the longest current streak for any college baseball team nationally — as the postseason approaches. They are ranked #1 in California and #8 in the nation.
It began on February 5 with a 7-2 win over College of the Desert (Palm Desert) at the David Battles Memorial Tournament and hasn’t stopped since. There were scores from 3:2 to 28:2, the latest Renegades score on Saturday against De Anza (Cupertino). But they ended every game ahead.
Curran counts victories, but he doesn’t live or die for them.
“We don’t talk about winning and we don’t talk about losing,” Curran said in a phone interview on Monday. “It’s all about the process, our preparation and what we need to do to get it done. And from there, wins and losses are a by-product of how well you do these things.”
This 26-streak victory over De Anza was the biggest of the season, but there will be some nails for the 34-match streak.
Just a day before the breakout, De Anza hit six runs in the ninth inning to extend Olone’s 10-3 lead to a single try. But Cade Castillo shut it down to keep the streak going.
Castillo also came in to save the day when the strip was only a month old. In an early March game at Mission (Santa Clara), he came in with a loaded base as the Renegades clung to an 8-7 lead. But after three outs, the streak remained alive and lasted another 20 wins.
“These games are good for us,” Curran said. “We need to learn how to deal with adversity.”
So what happened in the two games leading up to the streak? The Renegades lost 9-2 to Mount San Antonio, then 12-2 to Cypress a few days before their first victory.
Curran attributed them to a tough tournament in the early days of the season when he was just starting to figure out his bullpen.
The landscape of junior college baseball always intersects with NCAA baseball. Players use JUCO to gain attention and earn scholarships from NCAA teams, and they go to junior colleges to start over if their NCAA experience doesn’t go the way they planned.
Curran and his staff have eight NCAA players on the team, helping the Renegades win the Coast Conference regular season championship and continue this week’s streak against Cabrillo College (Aptos).
Curran singled out three players: Damian Stone (UC Santa Barbara), Micantononi Valdes (Miami) and Kyle Barilo (California, Bakersfield).
Stone had 42 stolen bases this season and earned seven RBIs in Saturday’s win. Valdez has “legitimate Division I authority,” Curran said.
These three may soon disappear again if Curran and his team complete the goals they have set for all of their players.
“Goal number one is they get out of here with their degree. Goal #2 – They’ll leave here with a championship ring and a scholarship offer,” Curran said. “Goal #3 – You’re going to walk away from here knowing what it means to someday be a good person, a good husband, a good father.”
All of them will have something to say, especially if the Renegades can continue the streak at the state championship in Folsom at the end of May.