Pitching depth a strength for Concordia nine

Most baseball teams’ successes start with its pitching staff, which appears to be the strength of this year’s Concordia Academy squad. The Beacons return their entire staff, including a pair of senior starters, from last year.

“Pitching will be our strength,” said Concordia head coach Eric Schutte.”We don’t have anyone who will overpower on the mound but all keep the ball down and hit their spots.”

Leading the mound crew this season are seniors John Holleran and Brock Thompson, both of whom have been throwing for the varsity team since their sophomore years. In 2013, Holleran recorded an earned-run average of 3.03 and was named All-Conference honorable mention. When not on the bump, Holleran is a utility player who is expected to fill some holes in the middle infield.

Thompson will be stationed in the outfield when he’s not on the hill. Other pitchers who return include senior Tevin Tolzien, who went 2-0 and worked 16 innings last season, and junior Sam Root, who was 1-1 in 2013.

Other returning players include sophomore catcher Zack Morse and seniors Chase Wood, Conrad Kramer, Carlos Hernandez and Ryan Maser.

Newcomers who could figure into the Beacons’ plans this season are juniors Kole Leistikow (infielder), Cole Schuessler (infielder), Reed Paavola (outfielder) and Josh Wolff (first baseman).

Tolzien, Maser and Schuessler will be called upon to shore up the middle infield spots along with Holleran.

Offensively, Concordia graduated its top three hitters from a year ago and scoring runs could be an issue this season.

“Defense and hitting are the unknowns but after three weeks of practice I feel move comfortable with what I have seen,” said Schutte, who is in his 10th season as head coach. “Now we just need to carry that over to the games.”

Concordia opened the season last week with three games in three days, starting with a 16-4 victory over St. Paul Johnson on Thursday. Root went 2-for-3 with four runs batted in while Holleran, Morse and Wood had two hits each and Leistikow and Kramer drove in two runs each. Holleran also picked up the win on the mound.

The next day, Concordia lost 10-2 to New Life Academy, a team Schutte expects to challenge for a state-tournament berth in Class A this spring. The Beacons left nine runners on base in the loss.

The Beacons returned to the win column on Saturday by beating St. Paul Como Park 4-3. Concordia trailed by two in the sixth inning but came up with three runs to take the lead. Schuessler’s double drove in two runs to tie it at 3-3. Morse had a good day at the dish also by going 2-for-3. On the mound, Thompson got the victory as he struck out nine in seven innings.

Concordia has a quieter schedule this week with only two games. The second is Thursday at home against Maranatha Christian Academy. The Beacons open Tri-Metro Conference play next week with a trip to St. Paul Academy on April 21.

Brian Meyers can be reached at bmeyers@lillienews.com.

2014 Concordia Academy baseball schedule

April 17    vs. Maranatha Christian Academy    4:15 p.m.
April 21    at St. Paul Academy    4:30 p.m.
April 23    at St. Croix Lutheran    4:30 p.m.
April 25    vs. Providence Academy    4:30 p.m.
April 28    at St. Anthony Village    4:30 p.m.
April 30    vs. St. Agnes    4:30 p.m.
May 1    vs. DeLaSalle at Parade Stadium    7 p.m.
May 3    at Breck    2 p.m.
May 5    at Mounds Park Academy    4:30 p.m.
May 7    vs. Minnehaha Academy    4:30 p.m.
May 9    at Legacy Christian Academy    4:15 p.m.
May 12    vs. Blake    4:30 p.m.
May 14    vs. Brooklyn Center    4:30 p.m.
May 16    at Delano tournament    7 p.m.
May 17    at Delano tournament        Time TBA

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