A season of two stories

06/02/2011 09:37

By Ryan Kostecka June 2, 2011

It was a season for the ages for the Titan baseball team. There were plenty of ups and downs on the season to go along with many memorable experiences and overall a time of the boys’ life that they’ll never forget.

“This season was a winding road full of bumps and potholes,” sophomore Joe Offer said. “We held on and stayed the course and in the end we were rewarded for our determination and willingness to quit.”

In what started out as a promising season for the Titans quickly turned to one that looked like they wouldn’t make the end of season championship tournament in Longview, Wash. LCC started the season with a 4-2 record but won only a single game over its next seven to enter the Southern Region play with a record of 5-7-1.

Throughout the Southern Region games, the Titans went on to win only three of the 15 series they played. Two of those three series sweeps came when the men needed it most.

With their playoff future hanging in the balance and clinging to a one-game lead over Linn-Benton for the final playoff spot, the Titans went on to win six of their next seven games, including a weekend sweep of first place Mt. Hood, and clinch the final spot offered to the Southern Region.

Due to an extremely wet spring, the Titans were forced to play six games a week, including 14 straight home games toward the end of the season.

The Titans ended the regular season with a 24-18-1 overall record and a 19-11 Southern Region play record.

“Two years of winning seasons to go along with deep runs at the NWAACC tournament, all while making some great friends. My career as a Titan was great,” Offer said.

Because of their overall performance throughout the season, the Titans were awarded the eighth and final playoff spot in the Northwest Athletic Association of Community Colleges championship tournament. If the men were to win the tournament, they would have to take out the top three seeds to get to the championship game.

In the first game of the tournament, LCC upset top-seeded Everett by a score of 9-4 before stealing a 4-2 victory against third-seeded Columbia Basin. This set up a showdown with second-seeded Bellevue. The Titans fell to the Bulldogs, who would go on to win the tournament, by a score of 9-0. The men’s season would come to an end as they fell to Mt. Hood 2-1 in the loser’s bracket and a fourth place finish.

The Titans finished the season with an overall 26-20-1 record and a fourth place finish out of the 28 NWAACC teams.

“I would sum up our season as one that allowed a great group of young men to learn, stretch their athletic and academic abilities, and in the end achieve a sense of accomplishment both on and off the field,” Stiles said.

The future looks extremely bright for the Titans as they return with a solid core of freshmen, including pitchers Zach Kayser and Jordan Van Engers and star catcher Jordyn Van Atta.

“After the bar we set these last two years of being a tough ball club that will do whatever it takes to win the right way, I think the future is very bright because kids see what we’ve started and want to be a part of this atmosphere and tradition that has been instilled here,” sophomore Jimmy Sanchez said.

The Titans will lose 16 sophomores to graduation. Coaches say no graduate is more important than the other.

“Certainly we will miss our sophomore class and we wish them all the best in with their futures,” head coach Stiles said. “They are a wonderful group of young men.”

LCC was led by sophomores Darrell Hunter, Joe Offer, Matt Myrmo, Jimmy Sanchez, Tym Pearson, Nick Phillips, John Linscott, Skip Spencer and Chance Cornish.

“Some days it was hard to go to practice but we all just held our heads up and stayed in the process,” Linscott said. “That’s a true testament to what kind of guys there are in this program right now. Everyone was playing for each other, not for themselves.”

Many of the sophomores will continue their careers onto four-year programs, some of whom are unsure where they will play.

Phillips and Offer have already signed letters of intent with Concordia University. Sanchez signed with Grand Canyon University in Arizona. Others are considering other schools, pursuing other sports or quitting athletics altogether.

“I am currently unsure of what the future holds for me,” Hunter said. “The only thing I can do is continue to work and hopefully that leads me to the goals I have set for myself.”