Baseball: Blue Devils will bring power to the postseason
Published 9:13 pm Wednesday, May 11, 2016
The Riverland Community College baseball team hasn’t played as much as they’ve liked this spring, but when the weather has allowed them to play, they’ve proven they can put up a lot of runs a hurry. The Blue Devils have scored 10 runs or more 18 times this season and they hope to keep that up as they begin the pursuit of their first NJCAA World Series berth since 2010.
The Blue Devils, who open postseason play against Minnesota West in Seltz Field 3 p.m. Friday, have a lineup that can get on base from top to bottom, and the heart of the lineup can drive for power with the best of them.
RCC’s Omar Colon, who is from Orlando, Fla., is hitting .415 with 11 homers, 11 doubles and 56 RBIs, Risandro Pastor, a native of Curacao who has missed 11 games with an injury, is hitting .485 with four homers, five doubles, five triples and 30 RBIs, and Alex Roosen, who is from Kenyon-Wanamingo, is hitting .373 with four homers, four triples, 10 doubles and 37 RBIs.
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“All the way through the lineup we have some weapons, but those three guys have one thing in common, they have a lot of power,” RCC head coach Scott Koenigs said. “With one swing they can change the game.”
Colon, a sophomore who will play at Benedict College, a Division II school in South Carolina next season, had three homers and 11 RBIs over the last weekend that saw RCC (27-6 overall) clinch its third straight conference title.
“It’s been a short season, but you’ve just got to enjoy it,” Colon said. “We’ve had confidence. You have to trust yourself and you have to put in a lot of work on the tee and in batting practice. Once you get on a roll, that’s how the hits keep on coming.”
Koenigs said Pastor was the best player on the Blue Devils squad before he went down with injury. Now Pastor, an outfielder who possesses blazing speed, is hoping to come back and make a big impact in the postseason.
“I don’t like to sit on the bench and watch the game. It’s good for me to come back and I’ll be back stronger,” Pastor said. “I think we have a good team. We have to stay focused. We have some good pitchers in Mitch Kelly and Lumpy [Roosen] and we just have to keep working.”
While Pastor hasn’t committed to a school yet, Koenigs said he shouldn’t have any trouble finding a team to play for next year, especially if he plays in the Region tournament in front of coaches from four-year schools.
“He was having an all-american type season for us [before he got hurt],” Koenigs said. “He got in the weight room this offseason. He was hitting the ball over the field and he’s a gazelle in the outfield. To lose him for those games was really tough, but Carlos Torres substituted really well for us.”
While RCC has leaned on its hitting this spring, it’s also had some big time pitching efforts from its top three hurlers.
Kelly, a Minnesota State University commit, is 7-1 with an ERA of 2.16, Roosen, a St. Cloud State University commit, is 6-0 with an ERA of 2.78 and Brandon Hodson, a Mayville State University commit, is 7-0 with an ERA of 2.23.
It’s possible RCC will ride those three pitchers as much as possible in the postseason.
“It’s been that four spot where we don’t know who we’d throw,” Koenigs said. “If it comes down to it, we’ll worry about that when it happens.”
Last season the Blue Devils had the No. 1 seed in the Region tournament, but they lost their first game and were eliminated while trying to make it back in the loser’s bracket. This year, the Blue Devils are likely to be at least a top-three seed if they can win their three-game series against Minnesota West.
Kelly said last year’s shortcoming was a tough loss for the returning sophomores and this year’s squad is ready to avenge it.
“I think we’re pretty motivated,” Kelly said. “It sucked losing that first game in the Regionals last year, but I think we’re going to have a nice run this year. Hopefully we’ll get to the world series this year.”
RCC took all four of the regular season contests against Minnesota West, with two of those games being 10-run wins and the other two being close games.
“It’s baseball and anybody can beat anybody on a given day,” Koenigs said. “You even see that in the major leagues, the best team can lose to the worst team. We’ve got to come ready to play. We can’t overlook Minnesota West.”
RCC’s first two games against Minnesota West would be held Friday at 3 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. and game three would be Saturday if it is necessary.