Baseball Splits with KWU, Anticipates First Place Showdown with Tabor
Sterling, Kan. – After a 2-2 split with Kansas Wesleyan University last week, the Sterling College Warrior baseball team is tied atop the Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference (KCAC) with Tabor College. In the series with Kansas Wesleyan, each team won a game on the road and a game at home. Currently, the Warriors are 19-5 in the conference, 27-19 overall with four games left to play in the regular season. Final seeding for the Warriors in the 2011 KCAC Baseball Championship Tournament at Hobart-Detter Field in Hutchinson, Kansas on May 3-6 will be determined this week as Sterling will play a four game series against Tabor on Friday and Saturday.
Tyler Suderman pitched six scoreless innings in the opening game for Sterling which won the game 1-0 in a pitching duel. SC scored in the bottom of the first inning and Suderman would continue to protect the lead until handing the ball to Chris Trujillo, who pitched the seventh inning and earned the save.
In the second game, Kansas Wesleyan’s offense caught fire and the Coyotes scored seven runs on seven hits on their way to a 7-0 victory. Sterling struggled to get runners across the plate, leaving eight runners on base during the game. Pete Lucas led SC in the game with two hits and also stole a base.
Offense was again a struggle in the third game of the series as the Warriors were shut out for the second straight game. Sterling only managed two hits against KWU pitcher Kirk Fridrich while the Coyotes got eight hits and four runs in the game for a 4-0 victory.
With their backs against the wall in the final game of the series, Sterling earned a much needed victory. Lucas hit a solo blast to lead the Warriors offensively and pitcher Tyler Deutscher earned the complete game shutout victory in a 4-0 SC victory.
When the Warriors take the field this week, they will be playing against the other top team in the KCAC. Both Sterling and Tabor come into this week’s series with a 19-5 conference record. Sterling is 27-19 overall while the Bluejays are 40-9 overall and ranked 23rd in the national poll. The opening double header of the four game series will be played in Sterling on Friday with games at 1:00 pm and 3:00 pm. The second half of the series will be played in Hillsboro on Saturday with game times again at 1:00 pm and 3:00 pm.
Tabor comes into the series as the top rated offense in the KCAC and eighth best offense in the NAIA averaging 7.9 runs per game. Jeff Hutton will lead the Bluejay lineup and is sixth in the nation in home runs with 15. Defensively, Tabor is even better. TC ranks first in the KCAC and second in the NAIA in ERA with a team ERA of 2.29.
Though they don’t have as good of numbers as Tabor, Sterling will be a tough draw for TC in this series. Sterling ranks 33rd in the NAIA in runs allowed per game, giving up only 3.9 runs per outing. Leading the pitching staff will be Danny Valenzuela, who has racked up 74 strikeouts on the season. Look for the Warriors to be aggressive on the bases in this series to take advantage of every single hit the Warrior bats complete.
The winner of this series will be the 2011 KCAC Regular Season Champion and will have the top seed in next week’s 2011 KCAC Baseball Championship Tournament.