There may still be snow outside, but the 2006 baseball season is only three weeks away for the Dakota County Technical College Blue Knights baseball team.
March 8-14, the Blue Knights will be headed to Port Charlotte, Fla. for an eight game schedule where they will face Rend Lake, Fergus Falls, New Hampshire JV and Cuyahoga. Practice is underway at the Irish Sports Dome in Rosemount as the team prepares for its trip south and the start of the 2006 season.
The Blue Knights finished the 2005 season with a 19-20-1 record under first year head coach Tim Huber and put itself on the map in the Minnesota Community College Conference with a trip to the MCCC State Tournament. The 19 wins were also a 14 game improvement over the 2004 team, which finished at 5-30. With the 2006 season almost here, the Blue Knights are looking to build on the winning record.
The 2005 staff will have some big shoes to fill, as 2005 staff ace Mike Spurling will be forced to sit out the season with an arm injury.
The lone returning pitcher from last year’s team is Ryan Van Dusen (Apple Valley). He will be joined in the rotation by freshmen Dave Geiger (Como Park), Paul Krebs (Little Falls) and Alex Monita (Tartan). Freshmen Travis Borowicz (River Falls, WI) and Brandon Amy (Northfield) will also battle for starting spots.
The relief core will include freshmen Joe Hickey (Cretin-Derham Hall), Jared Powell (Andover Central, KS) and Tyler Pachl (South St. Paul) and sophomore transfers Brian Hanson (St. Cloud State – Royalton) and Alex Hanson-Michelson (Anoka Ramsey – Forest Lake).
“Losing Spurling this spring was a big blow to our pitching rotation, but we have some very solid guys who are ready to step up and pitch some big innings for us this year,” stated Coach Huber. “We are young on the mound, but all we ask is that they throw the ball over the plate and give us a chance.”
Three of the four starting infielders return from the 2005 team. They are sophomores Dale Stein (Henry Sibley) at 1B, Mike Krejci (Apple Valley) at 2B and Jason Gergen (Randolph) at SS.
The starting spot at 3B is still up for grabs with Hanson, Hanson-Michelson and Powell battling for the nod. Freshmen Tom Barilla (Tarten), Rick Otto (Randolph) and Luis Paramo (Humboldt) will battle for time in the infield as well.
Returnee Charles Stene (Lakeville) will see time at 1B and DH. Krebs may also see time at 3B.
“I think we will be solid defensively in the infield,” stated Coach Huber. “We have some guys who can hit over at 1B and 3B will really be a battle because they are all very solid players.”
Similar to the infield, the outfield will likely start the season with some experience. Sophomores Alex Smith (Robbinsdale Cooper), Van Dusen and Scott Werner (Hastings) return. They will be joined by freshmen Derek Albers (St Cloud Tech), Charles Novotny (Cannon Falls), Scott Raymond (West High, UT), Krebs and Pachl.
The outfielders have to hit. I think we have some guys to put in those spots who are very capable of doing that,’ said Coach Huber.
There are several catchers battling for playing time, includingfreshmen Kyle Sovde (Apple Valley), Mick Dudero (Minneapolis South) and Jason Ellis (Richfield). Hanson and Powell will also factor into the catching equation.
“The catching spot will be interesting,” said Coach Huber. “We have a good mix of defensive and offensive guys. Hopefully, they can each play their role and do what they do best.”
You can follow all the DCTC athletic teams at www.goblueknights.com