College Baseball: RCTC looking for clutch performances
Rochester Community and Technical College baseball coach Steve Hucke hopes his team's recent timely hitting continues this weekend as the Yellowjackets begin the Southern Division playoffs.
RCTC (20-20) will host Ridgewater (13-16) in a best-of-three series on Friday at Saturday in the eight-team Southern Division playoffs. The four playoffs winners from the Southern Division will meet the fourth playoff winners from the Northern Division at next weekend's state and region tournament in St. Cloud.
"We're playing a little better baseball right now and I'm feeling good about the team jelling," Hucke said.
Part of his optimism has to do with his team's recent hitting.
"Our nemesis all year has been clutch hitting," Hucke admitted. "We've had games this year where we've had runners in scoring position just about every inning and we didn't get the clutch hit."
That has turned around lately, however.
"We have been getting better recently. We're starting to come on," Hucke said. "And we have five or six guys above .300."
Matt Stubbs has been the team's most consistent hitter this season. He is batting a lusty .397.
Ryan Lester is batting .370 and speedy lead-off hitter Angel Talamantes is at .338. Matt Fiechtner is hitting .316 and he also leads the team with four home runs and 31 RBIs. Sean Hohmeister, at .305, is also over the .300 mark.
Hucke said No. 9 hitter Trevon Bargfrede has given the team good speed and power at the bottom of the order. He leads the team with 12 stolen bases and has hit three home runs. Arik Jacquart also has hit three homers.
RCTC split a pair of games with Ridgewater during the regular season. RCTC is the No. 4 seed in the Southern Division and Ridgewater is No. 5.
The first game is at 4:30 p.m. on Friday and Hucke plans to start Ben O'Reilly. O'Reilly has won his last two outings.
"He's pitched so well, but we haven't scored runs for him," Hucke said. "He probably has six or seven no decisions."
The second game is at noon on Saturday and Hucke will send Jordan Ossefoort (3-2, 2.45 ERA) to the mound. A third game, if necessary, will follow at about 2:30 p.m. Saturday. Colton Petron (4-3) would pitch that game for the Yellowjackets.
"We've just got to make plays on defense and get timely hits," Hucke said.