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Prep baseball: Minnesota West sweeps 4-game series

TIM MIDDAGH/DAILY GLOBE Minnesota West third baseman Ryan Lee reaches out to make a sweeping tag on a Northland baserunner Saturday. The Bluejays improved to 20-11 with four wins over the weekend.1 / 3
TIM MIDDAGH/DAILY GLOBE Minnesota West pitcher Ricky Garcia rocks into his pitch as a Northland baserunner takes his lead Saturday. The Bluejays finished the weekend with a four-game sweep.2 / 3
TIM MIDDAGH/DAILY GLOBE Minnesota West's Hector Castro connects for a single against Northland on Saturday.3 / 3

WORTHINGTON — The Minnesota West Bluejays baseball team carries a few good arms this spring. Over the weekend, in a four-game home sweep of Northland Community and Technical College, they showed them off.

On Saturday, the Jays defeated the Pioneers 5-3 and 10-5. On Sunday, they earned 8-0 and 8-1 victories. Minnesota West is 20-11 on the season, already with the most wins in school history.

“All four pitchers had quality starts. And that’s just excellent,” head coach TD Hostikka said about the weekend sweep. “They’re doing what they need to do between games, so they’re staying healthy. The guys that are getting the opportunities are throwing strikes. So that’s huge.”

Ricky Garcia, a freshman right-hander from Miami Lakes, Fla., pitched a complete game three-hitter in Saturday’s opener. He walked two and struck out 10 to improve his personal record to 4-1.

In the second game, Jonathon Fernandez, another Florida right-hander, went five and one-third innings with Zach Devon pitching the final one and two-thirds. Northland scored all its five runs in the bottom of the sixth inning to tie the game at 5-5, but the Bluejays broke it open with five runs in the seventh.

Then on Sunday, Josh Gross — a freshman righty from Holstein, Iowa — threw just 54 pitches over six innings in the first game of the day, which resulted in a two-hit shutout. Windom’s Joe Wieneke blanked the Thief River Falls school in the seventh.

In Game Four, freshman right-hander Joseph Torres checked the Pioneers on one run over five innings as the Bluejays eased to the seven-inning victory.

It’s all elemental, if you ask the pitching staff.

“We just work hard in practice to get ready for games,” Gross said. “We just believe in each other.”

“We treat our practices like any MLB team would, and we treat our games like any MLB team would,” Garcia said. “We just focus on what we need to do to get the job done.”

Garcia said his location has been good. “This helps us get prepared for what’s to come, and focus on winning those critical games.” he explained.

The Bluejays are not only pitching well; they’re hitting well and making good plays in the field.

They collected 10 hits in Saturday’s opener as Rolando Ramos and Ryan Lee both had two hits apiece. In Saturday’s second game, Ramos had two hits (including a triple), Alex Rodriguez had three hits (with a double), Joshua Leon had four singles, and Austin Watkins had a pair of hits in a 19-hit Minnesota West attack.

In the Sunday opener, Ramos, Rodriguez and Hector Castro all had two hits as the team gathered 10 in all. Eleven more hits were collected in the second game with Lee and Leon getting two and Isaac Canada getting a double and a triple.

West committed just six errors in the four weekend games. Mountain Lake sophomore Nathan Adrian, who hit a two-out, RBI double in Sunday’s second game, was particularly sharp at his shortstop position as the Jays closed out their sweep.

Northland carries an area player on its roster, former Luverne High School multi-sport star Gunnar Olson. The centerfielder couldn’t get anything going over the weekend with hit bat, however. But he had plenty of company.

Saturday

R H E

Northland 200 100 0 — 3 3 3

Bluejays 020 030 0 — 5 10 2

R H E

Bluejays 000 140 5 — 10 19 2

Northland 000 005 — 5 7 5

Sunday

R H E

Northland 000 000 0 — 0 2 1

Bluejays 200 240 x — 8 10 0

R H E

Bluejays 014 001 2 — 8 11 2

Northland 000 100 0 — 1 5 1

Doug Wolter

Doug Wolter is the Daily Globe sports editor. He served as sports reporter, then sports editor, news editor and finally managing editor at the Daily Globe for 22 years before leaving for seven years to work as night news editor at the Mankato Free Press in Mankato. Doug now lives in Worthington with his wife, Sandy. They have three children and seven grandchildren. Doug, retired after a lengthy career in fast-pitch softball, enjoys reading, strumming his acoustic guitar and hanging around his grandchildren. He also writes books on fiction. Two of his stories, "The Genuine One" and "The Old Man in Section 129" have been distributed through a national publisher.

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