College baseball: RCTC pulls out of region tournament

Rochester Community and Technical College's hopes of winning a Region 13 championship in baseball were dashed before the tournament even began.

Rochester Community and Technical College head coach Steve Hucke talks to his team during the 2016 season. Hucke and his squad learned Wednesday that the team would not be able to compete in the Region 13 Tournament.

Rochester Community and Technical College's hopes of winning a Region 13 championship in baseball were dashed before the tournament even began.

RCTC pulled out of the event the day before the tournament, which began on Thursday in St. Cloud. The Yellowjackets (22-17) were the No. 4 seed in the eight-team, double-elimination tournament, but now their season is over without getting a shot at qualifying for the NJCAA National Tournament.

"It's just unfortunate," RCTC coach Steve Hucke said. "They're (the players) disappointed, but they're handing it very well."

Hucke was not allowed to comment on why RCTC had to withdraw from the tournament.

"It's not a discipline action, it's just something that happened," the coach said.


Nate Stoltman, RCTC's director or marketing and public relations, said the decision to pull the Yellowjackets from the tourney came at the administration level and from athletic director Jean Musgjerd.

Stoltman talked about the situation, but Musgjerd refused to comment.

"After an internal review, it was determined Wednesday that the Rochester Community and Technical College Yellowjacket baseball team was no longer eligible to participate in the remainder of this year's NJCAA sanctioned tournament due to issues relating to paperwork errors in reporting of grades and academic performance/eligibility," Stoltman said. "We are taking steps to help prevent these type of issues from happening again."

Hucke made it clear there were not a number of issues involved with the baseball program.

"It's unfortunate and disappointing that this happened," he said. "Our players did everything that was asked of them the whole year and I am proud of that and extremely proud as to how they handled this 'single isolated' incident. This will not happen again. We had a great season and nothing will diminish what we have accomplished here within our program."

Stoltman said the problem came up just before the start of the tournament. Last weekend RCTC had qualified for the Region 13 Tournament by defeating Western Tech in a play-in series.

"The bottom line was there were eligibility concerns that had to be addressed," Stoltman said.

When RCTC withdrew from the tournament, Western Tech was awarded a spot in the eight-team field.


"It was nice that they were able to fill the spot," Hucke said.

While the region tournament was being played on Thursday, the RCTC team gathered at a baseball field on campus. It was a send-off for the players, who played a game of softball and enjoyed a meal together. The players were not allowed to comment on the team being ineligible for the region tournament, however.

"No, you can talk to Hucke," freshman Arron Hohensee of Lewiston said.

"I don't have a comment right now," freshman Cam Rutledge of Hayfield added.

After their pickup game of softball and a meal, the RCTC players milled about one last time before parting for the summer, and in some cases maybe forever. Players took pictures together, signed each other's jersey and engaged in hugs and handshakes before dispersing.

"We really felt for them because they had a great season," Stoltman said.

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