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College baseball: Minnesota West loses out in regional bid

ROCHESTER -- A solid, yet unusual, college baseball season ended for the Minnesota West Community and Technical College squad over the weekend. The Bluejays, believing themselves capable of winning the Southern Division Tournament and entering re...

 

 

ROCHESTER -- A solid, yet unusual, college baseball season ended for the Minnesota West Community and Technical College squad over the weekend. The Bluejays, believing themselves capable of winning the Southern Division Tournament and entering regional play full of confidence, instead find themselves on the outside looking in.

The Bluejays opened tournament play Saturday at Rochester with a 3-1 victory over the host school. But they followed that up Sunday with a pair of losses, 3-2 to Riverland in the winner’s bracket championship game, and 10-1 to Rochester in the consolation championship.

As a result, Riverland and Rochester automatically advance to regional competition. Minnesota West sits it out with a 17-19 final record.

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“Which is a surprise to me. But when you leave it up to a committee, you have no idea of what they’re looking at,” said Minnesota West head coach TD Hostikka.

After the tournament, a committee was charged with choosing one more team to qualify for the regionals. It chose a team from the Northern Division, Hibbing, leaving Hostikka and the Bluejays wondering why.

The Jays found out they were passed over, Hostikka said, while on their way back from Rochester.

“Flat out, we should’ve done it in the field,” said the coach. “But our body of work -- we beat the No. 1 team in the north twice, and they lost to the No. 1 team in the north three times.”

Hibbing won more conference games than the Bluejays did, Hostikka admitted. But the Cardinals also played more conference games than the Bluejays did, due to a snowy, wet, cold early spring that wreaked havoc with Minnesota West’s schedule.

It was a weird spring, indeed, for the Jays, who were only able to play one home doubleheader during the entire season.

In their first game of the division tournament, West played well, scoring three runs in the top of the second inning against Rochester and holding on. They out-hit the Yellowjackets 11-6, and four players -- Angel Sanchez, Carlo Zorlo Gonzalez, Tucker Sorenson and Izak Davenport -- had two hits apiece. Davenport drove in all three runs with a home run.

Joel Barker threw all seven innings for the mound win, walking three and striking out four.

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In the next game against Riverland, the Blue Devils scored a single run in the bottom of the fourth inning to break a 2-2 tie.

Sanchez and Nelson Hopkins drove in the Bluejays’ runs.

Kyle White pitched for Minnesota West. He allowed nine hits, walked nobody and struck out five.

West and Rochester were deadlocked 1-1 after two innings in the consolation championship, but the Jackets broke the game open with five runs in the third and two in the fourth. Jeremie Garcia went 3-for-3 with a triple and two singles for the Jays, but the Worthington-based club could only gather six hits in the game.

Jean Perez started on the mound for Minnesota West but left the game, complaining of arm fatigue, in the fifth in favor of Michael Middlecamp.

Afterward, Hostikka wondered if the letdown after losing by a single run to Riverland may have “taken the wind out of our sails.” But in the consolation championship, he said, the Bluejays did not swing the bats well against the Yellowjackets’ Joshua Carey.

“We did not adjust to the pitching,” he said. “The pitching was 75 to 78 miles per hour. Maybe every once in a while he may have hit 80. And we hit a lot of pop-ups.”

Game One

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Minnesota West 030 000 0 -- 3 11 1

Rochester 100 000 0 -- 1 6 0

Game Two

Minnesota West 011 000 0 -- 2 4 1

Riverland 200 100 x -- 3 9 1

Game Three

Minnesota West 100 000 0 -- 1 6 0

Rochester 015 211 x -- 10 11 0

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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