Titans build on last season

03/14/2015 17:10

Lane baseball is off to a slow start after finishing third last year

By Jarrid Denney

For The Register-Guard

After a successful 2014 campaign, there is plenty of buzz surrounding the Lane Community College baseball program.

The Titans finished third at last year’s Northwest Athletic Conference tournament and are ranked first in the NWAC preseason poll.

The Titans (5-6) enter Sunday’s 1 p.m. home opener against George Fox with one of the deepest pitching staffs in the conference.

Sophomore pitchers Travis Boggs and Shane Quarterley, who spent their prep careers at Elmira and Thurston, respectively, each earned all-NWAC South Region honors last season, and could see their roles expand this year.

Lane coach Josh Blunt said his bullpen could be even better this year, even with the possibility of both Boggs and Quarterley jumping into the starting rotation.

“We’re really, really deep on the mound,” Blunt said. “The problem we have is a good problem. We have really good arms on the back end of the bullpen.”

Blunt also mentioned freshman right-handers D.J. Wilson and Josh Overstreet as players who could contribute on the mound for the Titans later in the season. Overstreet has been hitting cleanup for the Titans and could end up spending time on the mound, as well as at multiple positions.

“(Overstreet) will do both at this level,” Blunt said. “I would say at the next level he’s a legit draft prospect and high Division I arm.”

Malik Evans, a pitcher from Marist by way of Springfield, and Kyle Watson, a utility player from Thurston, are also Titans with local ties who are expected to contribute.

Ultimately, the player who could decide how far the Titans go this year is another local talent — Jackson Bertsch, a University of Oregon signee who led Pleasant Hill to a Class 3A state championship in 2013.

Bertsch had a breakout performance in last year’s NWAC tournament, and with a 6-foot-2, 220-pound frame and a fastball that tops out at 93 mph, has pro scouts lined up to see what he does next.

“He’s going to be drafted somewhere between the third and 12th round this year,” Blunt said. “Almost every professional organization has already been in his house to do the interview process.”

Titan catcher Kyle Beam’s name has started to pop up on draft boards as well. The 2013 Class 5A player of the year from Hood River has already signed to play at Old Dominion next year.

With a fairly young roster, the Titans will look to Beam, as well as returning South Region all-stars Forrest Garcia and Darin Nelson, for leadership.

Garcia hit .343 while earning a gold glove in left field last season, and will hit leadoff for the Titans. Nelson hit .281 with 20 doubles last year, and will shift to second base after spending most of last season in left field.