At Midseason, Roadrunners Focus on Another NWAC Baseball Title

Cole Cramer takes his swings in the batting cage during a recent Roadrunners practice. Photo by Josh Cande

Almost one year removed from winning the championship, the Linn-Benton Baseball team finds itself in a challenging yet highly promising scenario this season to take home another NWAC title.

Sporting a 15-11 record after a loss to Mt. Hood, they are focused on the April 13 game at home versus Chemeketa. As the season continues into the second half, the men have the goal of repeating as champions of the NWAC, according to coach Andy Peterson.

“We want to make the playoffs, win our games and take home another title, definitely. That’s the plan,” Peterson said. “We have a good amount of returning players, this team is a family, and we believe in one another. Our pitchers are great, our hitters are great and we just need to execute.”

As Pacific Association Division Coach of the Year and part of the coaching staff that helped bring the Oregon State Baseball team to the College World Series, Peterson’s laurels are as impressive as one could ask for. His focus on team chemistry has manifested via team bowling trips and other social gatherings.

The players consider themselves a close-knit family as well. Said third-year pitcher Dylan Rush, “Coach Peterson creates a family and a culture, and we have fun and work hard. Team experiences, mini golfing, bowling, hanging out outside practice. We want to win the south division, make it to the tournament and win the championship again. That’s our standard.”

Asked what the team could do to improve on their record, second-year pitcher Chase Reynolds noted “our mindset when facing a deficit, not getting down, staying up in your head. Getting ahead in the count as pitchers, winning every series, one day at a time, pitch-by-pitch mindset. All that helps.”

The players are focused, know their roles, know their strengths, and know their weaknesses. Peterson keeps them focused at practice with constant reminders about their goals and how good they can be, all while maintaining a strong connection with the players.

Standing at sixth place in the NWAC with 92 runs allowed is a good position to be in; the Roadrunners lead their division with 91 runs and hope to use this offense to break from a recent 4-6 slump and propel their way into the playoffs.

Such mindsets have an impact beyond merely the players, as the team is an integral part of the Linn-Benton social fabric and school spirit, a notion embodied by starting pitcher Brady Baltus.

“As a baseball player, I think we bring the community together because so many people like sports and we like the culture that the baseball and sports teams bring to the school. It’s a source of entertainment and community and bond-forming for the student body.”

Second-year Assistant Coach Humberto Alarcon, when asked about his coaching philosophy, said, “I just try to take what I learned from my previous coaches and help make these players better using whatever they respond to best. I don’t try to force anything on anybody, and I try to learn from them as well and see what works from one player to another.”

As for new players, freshman third baseman Kace Malone said, “It was definitely exciting coming into a place with a winning culture and improving upon what they built and continuing their successes. My favorite part at LB is the team camaraderie and people holding one another accountable and working together to build something special. I want to do whatever I can to help the team get back to the NWAC championship and repeat as champions.”

Kyle Perkins displayed how well a machine that the baseball team is, saying, “I want to make everyone else around me better and facilitate development in skill. We want to be building off one another’s successes and picking up each other and if someone struggles on the field we support them and pick them up.”

The team certainly has the pedigree, the talent and the coaching to bring home another banner to the LB campus, and with such great team chemistry and focus they like their chances. The students and staff of the college can attend games, cheer raucously, and support our student athletes in the hopes of bringing home another trophy and adding another incredible memory to the campus for all to share.