Monday, May 12, 2014

Sectional Baseball Preview

Baseball: Kurt Becker 2014
Becker and the Hawks will look to get back to their winning ways as they open postseason play Saturday. (Jim Cummins)
Harper Sectional Bracket
Joliet Sectional Bracket
Season Stats
@Harper_Baseball Twitter

PALATINE, Ill. – The Harper baseball team drew the two-seed and will host the Region IV Sectional Tournament at Harper College on Saturday, May  10 and Sunday, May 11.

The seeding for the region goes as follows:

#1-Joliet Junior College
#2-Harper College
#3-Waubonsee Community College
#4-College of DuPage
#5-Milwaukee Area Technical College
#6-Rock Valley College

Harper, Waubonsee and Milwaukee will play a three-team round robin tournament at Harper Saturday and Sunday. Joliet, DuPage and Rock Valley play a three-team tournament at Joliet Saturday and Sunday. The winner of each sectional earns a trip to the Region IV Finals held at Schaumburg Boomers Stadium from May 16-18. The two winners will play a best-of-three series with a berth to the NJCAA Division III Baseball World Series on the line.

Regular Season Recap

The Hawks struggled a bit on their spring trip, going 2-6 against high-quality competition to start the season. Upon returning, the Hawks got hot and reeled of 10 straight wins and 16 of 18 games to get to 18-8 on the season.

During that stretch, Harper sophomore third baseman Kurt Becker (Palatine, Ill./Palatine) was named NJCAA Division III National Player of the Week for his performance in games from March 31-April 6.

Since starting 18-8, the Hawks have struggled in the last few weeks with a 5-13 record and finished the regular season with a 23-21 mark. They were 12-8 at home, 10-12 away and 1-1 on neutral fields and finished second in the conference with a 10-2 mark behind 11-1 Madison College.

Season Series' Against Waubonsee and Milwaukee

Harper and Waubonsee (30-23) met once during the regular season for a doubleheader at Harper on April 22. The Chiefs took game one, 6-5, but Harper salvaged a split with a 5-3 game two victory.

Harper and Milwaukee (12-29) played a conference doubleheader at Harper back on April 1. The Hawks slugged their way to a 19-9 victory in game one and held on for a 9-8 win in game two.

Key Players for Harper

The Hawks will count on Becker (.487 average, three homers, 28 RBIs, 54 runs, 14 steals) for production. Shortstop Theo Yfantis (Prospect Heights, Ill./Wheeling) (.290 average, two homers, 26 RBIs) and designated hitter James Ioriatti (/Hersey) (.303 average, 28 RBIs) will be counted on to drive in runs. Left fielder Tyler Crussen (Wheeler, Ind. /Wheeler) (.307 average, 12 steals), catcher Zach Jones (/Maine South) (.293 average, 11 RBIs) and leadoff man  Chris Elliot (.263 average, homer, 11 RBIs) must find ways to get on base as well.

The Hawks have good depth at starting pitcher, led by Mickey Wazorick (Rolling Meadows, Ill./Rolling Meadows) (6-1, 3.61 ERA) and Steven Yfantis (Prospect Heights, Ill./Wheeling) (4-4, 3.91 ERA, seven complete games). Brent Kiesel (Streamwood, Ill./Streamwood) (4-3, 4.19 ERA) and Matt Ittersagen (Wheeler, Ind./Wheeler) (3-3, 4.45 ERA) will also be relied on for quality starts.

Lee Breitzman (Palatine, Ill./Fremd) (0-2, 5.40 ERA) gives Harper even more depth while Dan Schlitter (Bartlett, Ill./Bartlett) (2-1, 6.52 ERA, one save) will likely be a key contributor out of the bullpen.

Key Players for Waubonsee

Tom Colletti (.307 average, homer, 29 RBIs) is the top run producer for a Chiefs lineup that has five hitters batting .300 or higher. Outfielder Bobby Smith (.302 average, 21 RBIs, 18 steals) and Ray Cekus (.300 average, homer, 23 RBIs, 16 steals) both pose threats on the basepaths.

Angel Sanchez (4-2, 2.70 ERA, five complete games) has been the team's top pitcher this season. Sanchez has struck out 42 batters in just 40 innings.

Key Players for Milwaukee

Outfielder Zach Taylor (.330 average, nine RBIs in 34 games) is the Stormers' top hitter. Paul Murphy (2-1, 2.27 ERA in first five starts) is the team's top pitcher.

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