Baseball team primed for post-season
By Brodee Gillam
After the LCC baseball team’s 19-4 home loss to Macomb CC on April 22, it would have been easy to predict the Stars would continue to struggle.
Instead of stumbling, the Stars seemed to emulate rapper Big Sean and bounced back.
They bounced right back into a season sweep of division rival Schoolcraft College, putting the team in a position to win the MCCAA East Division championship.
The first game of the doubleheader against Schoolcraft ended 3-2 and the nightcap finished 7-6 in five innings. The games were played April 24 in Garden City.
LCC Head Coach Drew Huard said he was proud of his team’s resiliency.
“Our coaching staff, all of our players, we’re all on the same page: we weren’t happy with how we played in the second game against Macomb,” Huard said. “We really lacked energy, which really hurt us.
“That just shows you, we can beat all the good teams and every team can beat us, too, when we don’t bring it. (We) came out against Schoolcraft (and executed).”
Freshman pitcher Wyatt Rush set the tone for the defense in the first contest, only allowing one earned run in six innings pitched. Schoolcraft only recorded six hits against Rush, while he struck out nine Ocelots on the way to his eighth win in 10 appearances.
Rush said his confidence in his defense, even after the Macomb loss, never wavered.
“On a day-to-day basis my defense has been real strong for me all year,” Rush said. “As a pitcher it just allows you to fill up the strike zone. You have trust (that) if somebody bangs a ball out there, you know somebody’s going to pick it up and throw them out.”
On offense, the Stars’ hitters continued to grind out runs when they need to. Sophomores Hunter Ruhstorfer (a single, triple and steal) and Drew Cantrell (two singles, a steal and an RBI) continued to lead the Stars.
In the second game, both teams had big offensive innings but the pitchers continued to set the tone. The Stars seven runs all came within the first two innings, with six in the second.
Sophomore Michael Stygles was crucial to the Stars scoring those runs in the 7-6 win. Stygles, who had 10 strikeouts and a win in his last pitching start, showed his versatility, recording a single, a double, a steal and two RBIs.
Huard said the offseason workouts allowed the team to discover talents they otherwise would not have been able to, such as Stygles’ pitching.
“The fall was huge for us in seeing who could pitch and we pitched a couple guys that we didn’t think … were going to pitch, Michael being one of them,” Huard said. “He’s really stepped up in a pitching role. He’s gotten stronger in the offseason. His velocity increased.
“He became a guy that’s probably going to be a focal point in our rotation.”
LCC’s next home game is against Kellogg CC on Tuesday, May 1. The action starts at 3 p.m. at Westside Park.