Back on track -Winners of four straight; LCC ready for home stretch

04/23/2009 11:03

Tyler Pell

Issue date: 4/23/09 Section: Sports
 
Titan lefty Reed Nicholson works the mound during the Titans weekend series against Southwestern Oregon Community College. The Titans swept the series, and are now in second place at 11-7 in the Southern region. Photo by JORDAN BOTWINICK/The Torch
Titan lefty Reed Nicholson works the mound during the Titans weekend series against Southwestern Oregon Community College. The Titans swept the series, and are now in second place at 11-7 in the Southern region. Photo by JORDAN BOTWINICK/The Torch
After dropping four consecutive games for the first time all season, the Titans have turned things around in a major way, winning four straight games and reclaiming second place in the Southern region.

Losses to Chemeketa Community College and Mt. Hood Community College put the Titans on the outside looking in at the playoff picture. But after consecutive sweeps of Southwestern Oregon Community College and then-second-place Clackamas Community College, LCC is back in business.

"We'd rather be in no other place than having all the weight on our shoulders. What we do from here on out dictates how far we'll go. We just gotta take care of our business," Titans pitching coach Jeff Lyle said.

The Titans dropped their fourth straight game, and third straight against Mt. Hood, on Thursday, April 16. The 8-0 loss put the Titans even further out of the playoff picture, but that game proved to be the low water mark for LCC.

"We got beat up pretty bad. We hit with them, but they had four home runs that we couldn't compete with and that kind of set the tone for the whole week," Lyle said.

But the Titans turned things around in a big way when they hosted Southwestern on Saturday, April 18. LCC won the first game of the doubleheader, 4-2, behind a solid outing from freshman left-hander Reed Nicholson. Johnny Miles hit his team-best second home run of the season and Jody Potter picked up the save for LCC.

Freshman right-hander Larsen Kohler set the tone in the second game. Kohler picked up the win and the Titans' pitching staff allowed only four hits over nine innings as the Titans got a 3-0 shutout and a sweep.

The Titans rolled into Oregon City on Tuesday, April 21, looking to unseat Clackamas as the second seed in the Southern region standings, and they did exactly that. The Titans dominated Clackamas, outscoring them 21-5 in two games.

In the first game of the doubleheader, LCC used a bases-loaded double from Cory Staniforth, who had five RBI's in all, to roll to an easy 12-2 win. The Titans collected ten hits over nine innings and sophomore pitcher Matt Bellando got the win for LCC.
 
The Titans bats were even hotter in the second game. LCC had 13 hits, including a 4-4 effort from sophomore Johnny Miles. But it was the Titans' five-run fourth inning which put the game out of reach and the Titans won 9-3. Jody Potter picked up the win for LCC, which completed its second sweep of the week.

"Hitting. That's what this league is all about is hitting. There is no dominant pitching, whoever puts up runs and hits is gonna win the game, and that's what we've been doing," Staniforth said.

And no Titan has been more productive than Miles, who leads LCC in batting average (.345), runs batted in (22), and home runs (2).

At the halfway point of the season Mt. Hood seems to be running away with first place but the Titans winning streak put them back in second place, with a one lead over third place Clackamas.

"I think we'll take care of business and take the second seed," sophomore infielder Kevin Sheppard said. Sheppard added that Clackamas still has a few games left against Mt. Hood, which should help the Titans chances of maintaining their place in the standings, and ultimately earning a playoff berth.

If this week was any indication, LCC appears to be in good shape the rest of the way.

"We tried to do too much. We thought we had to play out of our element to beat [Mt.] Hood. We just have to play within ourselves," Lyle said.

In addition to playing within themselves, Staniforth believes that the teams' coaching staff, particularly Lyle, is a major reason for the Titans resurgence.

However, for Lyle it has been a little more simple, "Finally bought into playing team baseball again, the Titan way."