The Top: 7 Best Moments From UCR Baseball

A list of the biggest milestones in UCR Baseball history

Welcome to The Top!

Each issue, we present a list of UCR staff and faculty favorites — from walking spots to gardens to events. This week, in honor of Troy Percival being named the new UCR head baseball coach, we’re highlighting the seven best moments of UCR Baseball history.

If you have a favorite spot you’d like featured or an activity you’d like to share, email

1. 1965: UCR’s First-Ever Scholarship Athlete

John Lowenstein

John Lowenstein

John Lowenstein was not only UCR’s first scholarship athlete, but by 1970 he was also the first former Highlander to play in a Major League Baseball game. Lowenstein played for three years with the Highlanders before getting drafted by the Cleveland Indians. He went on to have a 16-year career, winning the World Series in 1983 with the Baltimore Orioles.

2. 1967: First-Annual Riverside Baseball Invitational (RBI) Tournament

1968 RBI Tournament Ticket

The Highlanders hosted UCLA, BYU, Mississippi State, Yale, Wyoming, Ohio State and Washington in the first annual Riverside Baseball Invitational Tournament. The tournament would continue for more than two decades, becoming the marquee college baseball event in Southern California. It drew some of the top Division I teams from across the nation. The list of players who took the field in the tournament is a veritable Who’s Who of college baseball: Barry Bonds of Arizona State University (ASU), Craig Biggio of Seton Hall, Bob Welch of Eastern Michigan, Hubie Brooks of ASU, Wally Joyner of Brigham Young University (BYU), Fred Lynn of University of Southern California, and Jack Morris of BYU.

3. 1975: Highlanders’ First-Ever NCAA Tournament


Jack Smitheran

In his second season as head coach, Jack Smitheran guided the Highlanders to their first NCAA Tournament appearance. Along the way, they beat Arizona and Stanford and claimed that year’s RBI Tournament championship. In the NCAA Tournament, they defeated Chapman in the West Regional before falling to Cal State Northridge.

4. 1977: Winning National Championships


The 1977 UCR Baseball team

UC Riverside won its first national championship posting a 43-19 overall record. Future major leaguers Eric Show (Padres) and Steve Lubratich (Angels) were key members of the squad, which defeated Eckerd 4-1 in the championship game.

5. 1982: Highlanders Winning Their Second National Title


The UCR Baseball team won the 1982 NCAA Championship. They are pictured here at the Dodgers Stadium.

The Highlanders won their second national title going 35-24, including a perfect 7-0 in the NCAA Tournament, which was hosted on UCR’s home field. The final victory of the season came in the form of a 10-1 win over Florida Southern. Future big league pitcher Calvin Jones (Mariners) was a member of that championship team.

6. 2003: Record of Wins in a Season

The 2003 UCR Baseball team

The 2003 UCR Baseball team

In the program’s second season after making the transition to Division I, the Highlanders earned their first NCAA Tournament appearance and became the first UCR team to accomplish the feat. UCR went 41-17 setting a program Division I-era record for wins in a season, and finished in third place in the Big West Conference with a 14-7 record.

7. 2007: Highlanders Wins Their First Big West Conference Championship


The UCR Baseball team celebrates the 2007 BWC Championship.

The Highlanders won their first Big West Conference Championship and made their second trip to the Division I NCAA Baseball Tournament. That team went 38-21, including a 16-5 record in conference play, beating the likes of nationally ranked USC and UCLA while sweeping No. 14 Cal State Fullerton and No. 11 Long Beach State.

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