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College baseball: Minnesota West still going in the right direction

COON RAPIDS -- Strong pitching and clutch defense helped the Minnesota West Community and Technical College baseball team sweep a doubleheader from host Anoka-Ramsey on Friday, evening the Bluejays' overall record and establishing what they hope ...

COON RAPIDS -- Strong pitching and clutch defense helped the Minnesota West Community and Technical College baseball team sweep a doubleheader from host Anoka-Ramsey on Friday, evening the Bluejays’ overall record and establishing what they hope will be a trend within the Southern Division.

After a busy road trip East, heavy on defeats, to start the season, the Jays are happy to be playing winning baseball.

“We didn’t win a conference game last year. We’re playing .500 ball, we’re 2-0 in the conference. We’ve won 12 of our last 14,” crowed head coach TD Hostikka.

In the first game Friday, West prevailed 6-3 using a strong mound performance from Eric Alicea, who improved his personal record to 6-0. He allowed five hits in seven innings, walked just one and struck out 12.

Philip Olivero went 2-for-4 at the plate and drove in a run, and Jeremie Garcia stole three bases and scored twice.

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In the second game, West led 5-0 through four innings and held on for a 5-4 victory. Jose Martinez (4-3) was the winning pitcher and Jorge Marcono pitched the final two-thirds of an inning for the save.

Anoka-Ramsey started the bottom of the seventh with a leadoff double, but he was stranded there.

“I told the guys after the game that last year we would’ve lost Game Two. We would’ve melted,” said Hostikka, recalling untimely mistakes that cost the team winnable games last season.

Rey Torres led Minnesota West hitters in the second game with a 4-for-4 performance. He scored one run and drove in two. Olivero also had an RBI.

Friday’s doubleheader was also noteworthy for the 21 strikeouts recorded by Bluejays pitchers. The locals are leading the nation in total strikeouts, and in strikeouts per nine innings.

They also stole 12 bases against the Golden Rams.

Minnesota West 110 030 0 -- 6 7 0Anoka-Ramsey 000 003 0 -- 3 5 2---Minnesota West 221 000 0 -- 5 6 2Anoka-Ramsey 000 013 0 -- 4 8 1

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