When he hopped on that plane to Seattle following his sophomore year at Mater Dei three years ago, Jonathan Schiffer was looking forward to attending a baseball camp at the University of Washington, though he didn’t know much about the program.
Schiffer certainly didn’t realize the Huskies were the only Pac-12 team never to qualify for the College World Series.
Schiffer knows now, of course, and the freshman first baseman for Washington played a big part in the victory that propelled Washington onto college baseball’s biggest stage.
Schiffer’s game-tying RBI single in the bottom of the ninth inning against Cal State Fullerton on June 10 kept that hope alive, and the Huskies rallied again in the 10th to win 6-5 and uncork a celebration they had never experienced before.
Washington started its baseball program in 1901. The College World Series began in 1947. Never had they merged until 2018.
Schiffer is the type of player Washington coach Lindsay Meggs has been recruiting ever since he was hired by the school in 2009, but also the kind of player who often ends up at Cal State Fullerton, a program that was seeking its 19th College World Series appearance and fifth national title before Washington got in the way.
“When I got hired, we talked about trying to play the type of game Cal State Fullerton plays,” Schiffer told the Seattle Times after advancing to the College World Series. “We knew we were behind physically, so we did our best to get guys who never quit, who like to play hard, who aren’t afraid to be at the plate, or come out of the bullpen with the game on the line.”
In the rubber game of their best-of-3 Super Regional at Cal State Fullerton, the Huskies were down to their final two outs when Schiffer rolled a ground ball through the left side to score a runner from second base and tie the score, 4-4.
Fullerton hit a home run to lead off the 10th and it appeared Schiffer’s timely hit an inning earlier might go for naught, but Washington took advantage of some defensive mistakes by the Titans to score two runs in the 10th.
Schiffer spent four years on the varsity at Mater Dei, but didn’t experience a deep playoff run until his senior season in 2017. As the team’s best two-way player, Schiffer threw two complete games in the CIF-SS Division 1 playoffs to help push the Monarchs into the semifinals, where they lost to eventual champion El Toro.
Schiffer went 9-1 overall with a 1.57 ERA as a senior at Mater Dei. At the plate, he hit 360 with seven doubles and three home runs.
It was after Schiffer’s sophomore year that he decided to check out a baseball camp at Washington. He told the team web site earlier this year that he was impressed with the region the moment his plane began circling overhead.
“Seeing the city, seeing the Space Needle, I was looking out the window like ‘This place is awesome, it seems like a really cool place.’ “he remembered. “I drove in, I saw the field, saw the facility, met with the coaches, and I had a heart-to-heart with my parents and I said, ‘this place is awesome, this is where I want to be.’ For me, it was honestly a no brainer.”
Three years later, it’s looking like an even better decision.