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College baseball: Minnesota West has sights set on winning Southern Division Tournament

WORTHINGTON -- A Minnesota West Community and Technical College baseball team unusually gifted in speed and pitching will open Southern Division tournament play in Rochester this weekend with Region XII Tournament hopes on the line.

WORTHINGTON -- A Minnesota West Community and Technical College baseball team unusually gifted in speed and pitching will open Southern Division tournament play in Rochester this weekend with Region XII Tournament hopes on the line.

The top two teams will qualify for regional competition May 16 in St. Cloud. The Bluejays hope to be there.

“We’re going into this thing hoping to win it all,” said head coach TD Hostikka on Tuesday.

Why not? The Bluejays have four pitchers as impressive as any in the conference. They’re batting over .300 as a squad, and they are now the No. 1 team in the nation in stolen bases.

It’s been a weird spring for the Bluejays and, in fact, Minnesota college baseball teams as a whole. A cold and snowy April caused havoc with the regular season schedule, but the weather has been more spring-like in May and the Jays have worked hard at getting ready for the important games still to come.

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Last weekend, Minnesota West played four divisional games in Austin, winning two and losing two.

In the first game against Anoka-Ramsey, West won 6-1 as pitcher Kyle White scattered six hits over seven innings, walking just one batter and striking out 11. Jeremie Garcia, Tucker Sorenson and Ricardo Reyes each had two hits, with Garcia driving in two runs.

Next, Riverland defeated the Bluejays 14-2. The Blue Devils scored in bunches, getting four in the third, six in the fifth and four in the seventh. The Jays collected just five hits in the game.

Game three saw Minnesota West lose 9-7 against Rochester after leading 7-4 through the first four innings. Garcia, Angel Sanchez and Carlo Zorlo Gonzalez all had three safeties for the Jays, and Sanchez and Sorenson drove in two runs apiece. But West couldn’t hold the lead.

Finally, West bounced back with a 13-2 victory over Western Tech. A 17-hit effort was highlighted by Garcia, who went 3-for-4, Gonzalez (3-for-3) and Darrius Johnson (3-for-4). Sanchez had two hits and three RBIs.

“We were looking to go 3-1. All of our losses, we did not play good defense,” recalled Hostikka. “I think what happened was once they got nervous, a couple of the guys who made errors, they didn’t want the ball hit to them anymore.”

Normally, the Bluejays are a solid defensive team. But that’s baseball.

On Saturday, Minnesota West will play its first tournament game against Rochester at 1 p.m. If the Bluejays lose that game, they play again at 4 p.m. The championship game is set for 1 p.m. on Sunday. Besides Minnesota West, Riverland, Rochester, Anoka-Ramsey and Western Tech will participate in the tourney.

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As of Tuesday night, Hostikka was not ready to name his first-game starting pitcher. He expressed confidence in several of his hitters who hail from the southwest Minnesota region.

Sorenson, a Worthington High School graduate, had five hits last weekend, including his first collegiate home run, and he has shown an impressive knack recently for stealing bases. Another WHS grad, Easton Sauerbrei, continues to hit well and he has stepped up defensively in the infield. Darrius Johnson, from Jackson County Central, is also hitting well and solidifying his spot in the lineup.

 

Related Topics: COLLEGE BASEBALL
Doug Wolter joined the Worthington Globe in December of 1983 as a sports reporter. He later became sports editor, and then news editor and managing editor. In 2006 he moved to Mankato with his wife, Sandy, and served as an editor at the Mankato Free Press. In 2013 he and Sandy returned to Worthington to take up the job of sports editor at The Globe, and they have been in Worthington since.

Doug can be reached at dwolter@dglobe.com.
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