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INA, Ill. (May 4, 2012) – The Rend Lake College Warriors baseball team will enter postseason play Saturday on an eight-game win streak.
After finishing the regular season 33-20 and third in the Great Rivers Athletic Conference, RLC will host the Lake Land College Lakers at noon in a Sectional doubleheader. The first team to win two games will advance to the NJCAA Region XXIV Tournament, which begins Friday, May 11, at Kaskaskia College. If Rend Lake and Lake Land split on Saturday, a third game will be played at noon on Sunday.
The Warriors took three of four games from the Lakers in the regular season.
“I’m confident we are going to get a good effort from our guys,” said RLC Head Coach Tony Etnier. “We have been playing very well lately. We’ve got three starters ready to go, a good bullpen, and our guys are as hungry as they’ve been all year. Lake Land has a good ball club and they are talented. We are going to have to play well to beat them.”
RLC sophomore ace Andrew Edwards (Gilbertsville, Ky.) is slated to throw first on Saturday. The 6-5, 250 pound right-hander has 69 strikeouts and an ERA of 2.02 in 62.1 innings this season.
“Edwards’ last two outings have produced very good results,” Etnier said. “His velocity is back up. He is touching 93 and 94 a lot, and his location right now is as good as it has been all year.”
Another pitcher who has been key for RLC this season, Nick Andros (Goreville), is scheduled to throw the nightcap. Andros has a 2.75 ERA with 53 strikeouts in 52.1 innings. “Andros has thrown well. He’s been solid all year, consistent ... three pitches for strikes and provides us different looks as a left-handed pitcher,” said Etnier, adding he predicts Lake Land coach Tony Simmonds will go with freshman left hander Andy Oliva and then freshman right hander Micah Wolfe.
“Wolfe beat us and we beat Oliva earlier in the year. Both of those guys are capable of beating any team in the league. Offensively, Lake Land has four or five guys at the plate who swing it really well, so it should be a good match up.”
Etnier said he is very happy with his team’s production at the plate of late, calling out a handful of hitters who need to keep performing for RLC to make a run at the region championship.
“Offensively, Jordan Fortner (Decatur) and Justin Busekrus (O’Fallon) have driven in a lot of our runs this year. Greg Guest (Nashville) has done a great job in the lead-off spot and Steve Draper (Alto Pass) is another who has given us great at-bats. Blake Deaton (Mount Vernon), Nolan Ray (Evansville, Ind.) and Frank Dreslinski (Milford, Mich.) are guys who have really started to swing it a lot better down the stretch.”
Fortner: .342, 4 HR, 32 RBI
Busekrus: .353, 1 HR, 32 RBI
Guest: .322, 17 SB
Dreslinski: .301, 25 SB
Other notable pitchers for RLC: Brandon George (DuQuoin) - 2.89 ERA, 62.1 IP, 52 K, and Garrett Hunt (Benton, Ky.) - 3.47 ERA, 46.2 IP, 31 K
RLC’s most notable improvement this season has been on defense, according its coach.
“We have really cleaned up some things and prevented giving up those big innings,” he said.
Etnier is now in his sixth year at the helm of baseball at RLC. The Warriors won a Region XXIV title in his second season. He would like nothing more than to get another shot at going to the Juco World Series.
“I’m excited about this year because of the way our guys have played late,” Etnier said. “We are going into the postseason on an eight-game winning streak and we are playing our best baseball right now.”