Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Sophomores carry KCKCC hopes in playoff game Saturday


Led by righthanded pitcher Zac Butler, Kansas City Kansas Community College will send a sophomore dominated lineup against Butler County Saturday in the opening game of the Region VI playoffs at the new Blue Devil baseball complex Saturday.

A best-of-three series, KCKCC will have just two freshmen in the starting lineup for the noon opener. The second game will start 30 minutes after the finish of the first game with a third game if necessary set for Sunday at 1 p.m.

A sophomore from Blue Springs, Butler has been the ace of the KCKC staff this spring, compiling a 9-1 record with a 1.75 earned run average. His only loss was 2-0 at Jayhawk champion Cowley March 29. Butler has four shutouts and eight complete games in 10 starts this season.

“Zac has impeccable command and the ability to throw any pitch on any count,” said Coach Steve Burleson. Butler has struck out 43 while walking just 11 in 67 innings.

Just who will go in the second game has yet to be decided.

“We have several who could get the call,” says Burleson. “We’ve used Jake Woods as both a starter and reliever lately; Derrick Winter has been used almost exclusively as a starter in his two years; and Eli Egger has done a good job as a starter recently.”

The starting second baseman, Woods has a 2-1 record with a 3.25 ERA; Winter is 5-2 with a 4.25 ERA; and Egger, a southpaw, is 3-2 with a .3.69 ERA and a recent shutout over Johnson County. All are sophomores.

Relief help if needed will come from sophs Cisco Medina, Tyler Lankford and Matt Dye and freshman Austin Unrein.

The rest of the lineup for the opener is set with an all-sophomore infield of Dean Long at first, Woods at second, Landon Teal at short and Poncho Amaya at third with freshman Garrett McKinzie behind the plate.

Sophomores Andrew Kreiling and Trent Sullivan will flank freshman centerfielder Lucas Norton in a standout defensive outfield with a combined two errors in 51 games.

Long leads in hitting at .359 and RBI with 36 followed closed by McKinzie at .350 with 29 RBI and Kreiling at .346, 34 RBI and a team high four home runs from the leadoff spot.

“Kreiling has been our hottest hitter of late,” said Burleson. “Everything he hits has been hit hard.”

Caleb Waddell, the likely designated hitter, is batting .333 followed by Amaya, .309 with 26 RBI; Woods, .293 with 21 RBI; Sullivan, 2.79; Teal, 2.48; and Norton, .230.

“The key for this particular team is to stay focused and maintain a pretty even keel,” says Burleson. “That goes both ways. We’ve shown pretty good resolve when we get behind to make up some runs but we can’t get too excited when we get ahead.”

Fourth in the Jayhawk East at 21-15 and 31-20 overall, the Blue Devils finished one game back of third place Coffeyville (22-14) and two back of second place Fort Scott (23-13). Cowley was the runaway winner at 31-6.

Butler, which was 24-19, finished fifth in the Jayhawk West at 18-14 behind Seward (21-11), Garden City (20-12) and Dodge City and Colby, both 19-13.

The winner of the three-game set will advance to the 8-team Regional VI playoffs to be held at Lawrence Dumont Stadium in Wichita May 10-14.

That winner will move on to the NJCCA World Series in Grand Junction, Colo.   

PHOTO: Sophomores will carry most of the load when KCKCC hosts Butler County in opening Region VI playoffs at KCKCC Saturday. They include (kneeling, from left) Trent Sullivan, Landon Teal, Caleb Waddell, Poncho Amaya, Dean Long, Brandon Witt, Andrew Kreiling and Jacob Woods; (standing) Francisco Medina, Tyler Lankford, Matt Dye, Zac Butler, Eli Egger, Derrick Winter and Dylan Donley. (KCKCC {Photo by Alan Hoskins)