Anoka-Ramsey Community College baseball coach Tom Yelle began his 26th season leading the Golden Rams to their annual trip to Harrison, Ark., and the campus of NJCAA Division III top-ranked North Arkansas College March 13-16.
The Golden Rams returned two out of 20 players from the 2012 team that went 15-23 overall and 4-10 in MCAC South Division competition.
Yelle said in a blog, the group shows better team speed than in past seasons with a potential for strong hitters to emerge.
Defense up the middle should be solid with above-average outfielders and a complement of good starting pitchers that lack a deep roster.
Top incoming players include shortstops Tucker Morrell (Elk River) and Jon Fern (Park Center); catching options Andrew Pitts (Park Center) and Evan Gassis (Somerset, Wis.) and third baseman Ben Norling, a transfer student from Bethel University.
Watch for the young Golden Rams to develop what could be a strong team chemistry into wins sooner rather than later.
The team started 0-8, losing all six games on the spring trip to Arkansas. Anoka-Ramsey lost three games to North Arkansas, two to Wester Technical College (LaCrosse, Wis.) and a 5-4 final game against NJCAA Division II Highland Community College (Freeport, Ill.).
Anoka-Ramsey returned home to split a Metrodome doubleheader against Rainy River Community College March 29. The first MCAC-test of the season yielded the Golden Rams’ first win of the 2013 campaign, 4-3. Down 1-0 in the sixth inning, Anoka-Ramsey rallied with a lead-off walk by Morell followed by an RBI double by Pitts.
After Rainy River took a 3-1 lead on two wild pitches in the seventh inning, Anoka-Ramsey regained the lead for good, keyed by a two-out triple by Fern in the bottom half of the inning. Fern sent a fly ball to the right-center fence to score two runs to gain a 4-3 lead.
Andover graduate Boomer Johnson worked through a tough seventh inning to record the save by stranding runners on first and second bases and with no outs, using three fly balls to end the game. Freshman right-hander Cory Strecker (Roseville) earned the win after allowing one run in the first inning and maintained that score through five more innings.
Rainy River won the second half of the doubleheader by an 8-4 score. Anoka-Ramsey led 4-3 in bottom of the third inning after freshman center fielder Anthony Demarco worked his way around the bases on a single, stolen base, moved to third base on a fly ball and scored on a wild pitch.
Through 10 games, Luc Peterson leads the team with a .400 batting average (8-20) with four RBI and three runs scored overall. He is 6-14 (.429) in MCAC games so far and among the division leaders. Fern’s nine hits are a team-high (9-34, .264 batting average) with five multi-base hits. Tucker Morrell leads the team with three stolen bases.
Strecker leads the pitchers with 12 strikeouts in a team-high 19 innings of work with a 7.58 ERA and 1-3 record.
Jason Olson is at [email protected]