Betten Best Bet For Cal Poly Pomona

Randy Betten, a fixture in the Inland Area college baseball scene since the mid-’90s, will be named Cal Poly Pomona’s head coach today, Monday, Jan. 3, 2011.

Betten, an assistant baseball coach at Riverside Community College, Cal Baptist University and UC Riverside, is taking over a Broncos program steeped in history (three NCAA Division II titles) created by legendary coach John Scolinos.

I got to know Betten from 1999-2004, while I was covering RCC’s sports programs for several publications.

And though I have spoken to him many times since, my first impression of him is what I’ll probably remember most.

I was working on a story about Luis Robles, the Tigers’ catcher from in 2000-01. I received permission to do a photo session with Robles near home plate, and I wanted the photographer to get a side shot of Robles with the ball just a few inches from his glove.

I thought I was doing a good job of throwing strikes to Robles, a future N.Y. Yankees minor leaguer, but Betten, an RCC alum who reached Triple-A as a professional player with the Los Angeles Angels, walks up, introduces himself and tells me I’m likely to hurt my arm if I try to throw much harder at the angle at which I’m throwing.

“You’re throwing with your elbow,” he says. “You need to go over the top so you use you shoulder, like this.”

And he stepped to the rubber and started firing strikes to Robles. Then he tweaked with my delivery while I threw six or seven more after he was done.

Was it showmanship? Sure. But the dude was a pro (not a slow-pitch softball dud), and he bothered to coach me, just some guy walking around with a tape recorder and notebook. That’s pretty awesome.

We would then talk after games or practices, and he’d always have something quotable to say. Just thoughtful and articulate, and I could tell then that he was destined to be a head coach. Or a lawyer, if he so chose.

One conversation we had was about Cal Poly and coach John Scolinos, who I knew he, and RCC coach Dennis Rogers, both hold in high esteem. To wit: Betten presented Rogers when the latter was inducted as a member of the Riverside Sports Hall of Fame, and Rogers, during his induction speech, spoke about the influence Scolinos had on him and the program he created at RCC.

Betten, an RCC alum, cut his coaching teeth at RCC. I correctly inferred about the impact Scolinos must have also had on him. Betten was glowing in his praise for Scolinos and Pomona’s program, which just so happens to be among the best in Division II.

Lo and behold, he was looking into his own future.

FOMB will do the same, and predict Cal Poly Pomona’s fourth NCAA title THIS SEASON.

The Broncos return a solid group of juniors that includes C/INF Michael Neff (6-foot-4, 205 pounds), a JUCO All-American at RCC two seasons ago.

With a pipeline from RCC to the NCAA firmly established, expect collegiate baseball in the Inland Area to flourish. The four-time California Community College champions beget the three-time NCAA Division II champions. It was an inevitable connection.

And the best bet for the continued success of Cal Poly Pomona’s baseball program.

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