Roadrunners Clinch South Region Title and NWAC Playoff Berth

Photo by Sarah Rose Larson

The Linn-Benton baseball team has clinched a divisional title in the NWAC South and a berth in the NWAC Championship tournament. This comes after divisional rival Lane Community College dropped both games of a doubleheader to the Mt. Hood Saints on Monday, May 15.

The Roadrunners, defending champions of the NWAC, will now avoid playing in a super regional game. The Lane Titans, on the other hand, enter the playoffs on a more somber note. The Titans entered the final six games of the regular season needing only two wins to lock up the NWAC south and only won one.

The Roadrunners finished the season with a 28-16 record overall and a conference record of 23-13. Lane, meanwhile, finished with a 22-14 record in the NWAC and 24-20 overall. The Titans still managed to still finish second in the division and have their chance at a title.

The Beaks’ opponent in the tournament is not yet determined, as the super regionals will decide as much. In a super regional, two teams face off in a one-game play-in where the winner advances to the championship tournament bracket. 

Sixteen teams in total qualified for the playoffs and the Roadrunners played in the most challenging division. The NWAC South had four teams finish with a winning record and qualify for the playoffs, while none of the other three divisions had more than two teams with a winning record overall. 

It is a fantastic accomplishment for Coach Andy Peterson, who is trying to bring a second consecutive NWAC title to Albany. Certainly, when the tournament starts, the Roadrunners will enter with high spirits after finishing the season on a two-game winning streak. 

Titus Dumitru and Trey Nelson will be leading the way in the tournament as two of the team’s most productive players during the season. With a .319 batting average, 30 RBI and 14 stolen bases on the season, Dumitru is headed to play Division I baseball at New Mexico State University next year. Nelson, who had 32 runs of his own while sporting a .311 batting average, managed to steal 6 bases in 44 games.

When the playoffs start, the Beaks will be relying heavily on their pitching staff in order to take home a trophy. This includes Dylan Rush. Rush hurled the rock for 59 2/3 innings this season and posted a 1.66 ERA while fanning 37 batters. Rush held opposing batters to an incredible .210 batting average and allowed only one triple all season. He finished the season with a 6-1 record. 

Chase Reynolds threw 56 2/3 innings of his own and with a similar 1.91 ERA and 53 strikeouts. Reynolds had a 5-4 record with opposing batters struggling to make contact with his pitches on a collective .200 batting average. 

Rounding out the pitching staff are Brady Baltus and Kaden Miller. Baltus pitched 68 innings and Miller threw 45 2/3 of his own. Baltus owned a 3.18 ERA with 53 strikeouts while Miller had a 2.96 ERA and fanned 22 batters during the season. 

It will be impossible to bring another banner to the program without strong performances from the pitching staff, batters, and fielders.