Baseball ends on a high note

{jcomments on}The Orediggers won their 2nd consecutive series Saturday at Jim Darden Field taking two games from Colorado State–Pueblo. The Diggers got hot at the right time by winning 5 of their last 7 games, but unfortunately it was already too late as they missed the RMAC playoffs for the second consecutive year. It was the second straight year in which the Diggers won only 7 conference games.

If Mines could have avoided a mid season 12 game losing streak or proved better on the road, where they went 1-13, they would have had a legitimate shot at the playoffs and could have made some noise with the way there were playing lately. During Mines’ last two series they outscored their opponents 74 to 38 and found stability in one of their season-long weaknesses when Marshall Schuler was moved to the bullpen.

Saturday was senior day and although the careers of Schuler, Anthony Siderius, Andrew Ryan, Cory Ast, Craig Matsuda, and Cris Rogers ended with a loss, their contributions to the team and program will not be forgotten. All players were major contributors throughout their careers and it’s hard to imagine how the team would have looked the last few years without their services.

Looking forward to next year, Mines will have some huge holes to fill. The team will lose their top four pitchers in Schuler, Ast, Ryan, and Rogers along with their leadoff and four hole hitter in Matsuda and Siderius.
71% of the team’s innings graduate with Schuler, Ast, Ryan, and Rogers and if the Diggers want to make the RMAC playoffs next year they will need young pitchers to step up, whether in the form of currently rostered players or incoming freshman.

The Digger offense will undoubtedly be the team’s strength next year as Coach Oates returns 7 starters including 6 players with over 20 games of experience that hit over .300. The big question is who will fill in for Siderius and Matsuda.
Mines currently has 3 returning catchers in Jordan Williams, Bryan Coday, and Jared Wallace. Willams was the team’s primary number two catcher this year with Coday getting at bats in the form of designated hitter or pinch hitter. Wallace will return next year from a medical redshirt after undergoing off season shoulder surgery. It should be a good battle between next fall and into the spring as all three can hit and contribute both offensively and defensively to the team.

The replacement for Matsuda is a little more blurry. Matsuda showed great leadership and grit as he played through many injuries at the end of the year prompting his move to second base while Tyler Thornton took over at shortstop. Thornton played well at short and it looks as though initially he will be the quarterback of the infield. The primary candidates for second base are Kyle Wallace and Brum Sachs. Wallace injured his elbow very early in the year and underwent Tommy John surgery while Sachs appeared in 12 games, all at third base. Once again it should be a good battle in the offseason to see who wins the job; assuming Wallace is healthy in time, which is expected as recovery time is about 6 months.

Although this year was another disappointing one for the Orediggers, next year will be the first year in which the program is all guys recruited by Coach Jerrid Oates and, as the team showed at the end of the year, the sky is the limit.

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