MCC Baseball plays Luna Friday in Region IX tournament opener
The McCook Community College baseball team opens the Region IX tournament Friday at 3 p.m. at the Jaycees Sports Complex against Luna Community College in a best-of-three series which continues Saturday.
The Indians have the chance to top the 30-win total for the season, ending the regular season 29-25. MCC finished second in the Empire League’s north division with a 19-15 record in Region IX (The Empire League.) Luna Community College is in its inaugural year in Region IX. The Rough Riders, from Las Vegas, N.M., are the third seeded team in the south with a 12-18 Region IX record and 13-23 overall.
Game 2 of the series is set for Saturday at noon, and if a third game is necessary it will begin about 30 minutes following the end of Game 2. All games are scheduled nine-inning games.
The Indians have slugged 82 home runs on the year – ninth most in the nation. MCC is averaging 8.18 runs per game and the 442 runs scored this year rank 20th in the NJCAA among Division I teams. MCC is batting, .322 with an OBP of .426 and a slugging average of .553. The Indians are in the top 12 in the country in at bats, homers, RBIs, extra-base hits, and total bases.
On the pitching/defensive side, MCC allows 6.8 runs per game and has struck out 386 hitters in 360 innings of work.
Individually, freshman Daniel Bannon (Sydney, Australia) leads MCC in hitting with a .444 average. He is 14th in the nation in that category. In 53 games this spring he has scored 75 runs (fourth in the nation), has 13 doubles, six triples and 13 home runs, and 50 RBIs. He has an on-base average of .529 and is slugging .783.
Two Indians are among the top 10 sluggers in the Division 1 JUCO ranks and four Indians rank in the top 40 among the nation’s best home run hitters. Freshman Zack Beatty (Maple Park, Ill.) is tied for fifth in the NJCAA and leads MCC with 18 home runs, (in 43 games). He is batting .351 with 57 RBIs, has a .449 OBP and is slugging .743. Sophomore Ricardo Hernandez (Ponce, Puerto Rico) has 17 and is tied for seventh. He has 65 RBIs in 38 games is hitting .395, and leads the team in slugging at .809. Kade Wroot (sophomore, North Platte) has hit 14 (.350, with 52 RBIs in 48 games). Beatty, Hernandez and Bannon all earned Region IX player of the week honors this year and Hernandez was named national JUCO player of the week last month.
Two pitchers earned top weekly conference pitching honors this season as well: Freshman Maxim Mrakovcic (Sydney, Australia), and sophomore Arjun Huerta, (Willemstad, Curacao).
Mrakovcic started 11 games, went 5-3 and struck out 83 hitters in 60.1 innings. Huerta started nine games went 4-3 in 45.1 innings and fanned 68. Freshman Ethan Fritz (Bellevue) started nine games, went 4-2 and struck out 27 in 42 innings. Alex Lozada (San Juan, Puerto Rico) started seven games and struck out 28 hitters in 34 innings. Sophomore Austin Mathews (Clearwater, Fla.) started eight games (3-4) and struck out 50 in 56 innings.
In the bullpen freshman Jordan Muschalek (Odessa, Texas) saved three games, he appeared in 22, and struck out 28 hitters in 34 innings. Sophomore Mitchell Driver (Sydney, Australia) appeared in 13 games, saving one, and fanned 25 batters in 20.1 innings. Quentin Werner (freshman, Elgin, Ill.) saved two games for the Indians, appeared in 12 games and struck out 13 in 17.1 innings.
Luna Community College is averaging 6.41 runs per game, have a team batting average of .298 and have hit 37 home runs in 36 games. They are led offensively by sophomore infielder Dusty Sipe, who batted .413 with 14 home runs and 42 RBIs. On the mound freshman, left-hander Ruger Bravo led the Rough Riders with a 5-0 record in nine starts. He struck out 44 in 45.1 innings and freshman Logan Wilson went 3-5 in 10 starts. The right-hander struck out 30 in 42 innings and shut out MCC on three hits on March 28. MCC roughed up Bravo, touching him for eight runs in five innings of work in an 11-9 win on March 29.
MCC split the two games in Las Vegas March 28 and 29, winning the first game of the series 16-3, then losing 2-0. On March 29 MCC won the first game 11-7 and lost the finale 14-4.
Because of a change in the Region IX post-season format all eight teams are participating in the post-season tournament this year with the top two finishers in the north division (McCook and Southeast) and the top two finishers in the south division (Lamar and Trinidad) earning a home-series to start the tournament. The four weekend winners will advance to a double-elimination tournament May 13-16 at the UCHealth Field in Colorado Springs.
Other first-round series includes Southeast Community College (No. 1 north seed) hosting (No. 4 south seed) Otero Junior College starting Friday and continuing with two games (if necessary) Saturday.
Lamar Community College, the top seed in the south, will host Otero Junior College (No. 4 south seed) Northeastern Junior College, in a best-of-three series starting Friday.
Trinidad State (the No. 2 seed in the south) will host No. 3 north seed, Western Nebraska with two games on Friday and another on Saturday if necessary.
FINAL EMPIRE LEAGUE STANDINGS
REGION IX OVERALL RECORD
1. Southeast CC 24-6 .800 34-12
2. McCook CC 19-15 .559 29-25
3. Western Neb. 16-18 .471 21-27
4. Northeastern JC 16-18 .471 19-26
1. Lamar 21-13 .618 27-27
2. Trinidad State 15-19 .441 24-25
3. Luna CC 12-18 .400 13-23
4. Otero JC 9-25 .265 13-35
FIRST ROUND PLAYOFF SERIES (Best-of-three games) – May 7-8
Luna CC at McCook, Friday and Saturday (two games if necessary).
Otero JC at Southeast CC, Friday and Saturday (two games if necessary).
Northeastern JC at Lamar, Friday and Saturday (two games if necessary).
Western Nebraska at Trinidad State, Friday (two games), and Saturday if necessary.
SECOND ROUND DOUBLE ELIMINATION – May 13-16
At UCHealth Park, Colorado Springs, Colo. (All times MT)
Thursday, May 13
Game 1 – Southeast CC/Otero winner vs. Trinidad State/Western Nebraska winner, 10 a.m.
Game 2 – McCook/Luna CC winner vs. Lamar/Northeastern JC winner, 2 p.m.
Friday, May 14
Game 3 – Game 1 loser vs, Game 2 loser, 10 a.m.
Game 4 – Game 1 winner vs. Game 2 winner, 2 p.m.
Saturday, May 15
Game 5 – Game 3 winner vs Game 4 loser, 10 a.m.
Game 6 – Game 4 winner (championship bracket) vs. Game 5 winner
Sunday May 16
Game 7 – If necessary, noon.