2019 MCAC Baseball Coaches Poll & Preview

Hibbing's Evan Jerome (pictured) is on one of several teams looking to knock off the coaches pick in their Division; MCAC squads are chasing Riverland, SCTCC & Itasca to start the spring.
Hibbing's Evan Jerome (pictured) is on one of several teams looking to knock off the coaches pick in their Division; MCAC squads are chasing Riverland, SCTCC & Itasca to start the spring.

Rochester, MN- 

Baseball coaches from around the Minnesota College Athletic Conference recently took time out of their preseason practice routines and spring trip preparations to offer their thoughts and predictions for the 2019 MCAC baseball season. 

Read on for the predicted order of finish in each Division and for season previews of the teams who comprise the Northern, Central and Southern Division ranks of the MCAC.  In addition, the NJCAA has elevated their game this year with expanded coverage of NJCAA baseball programs, including those in the MCAC.  Be sure to follow @NJCAABaseball on Twitter for the latest in NJCAA two-year college baseball news, rankings and season information. 

Division coaches emphatically picked St. Cloud Technical & Community College as the likely top team in the Central Division; the Cyclones are led by returning player Luis Massa who will hope to replicate the success of the Cyclones in 2018 when they won the Region XIII title and advanced to the 2019 NJCAA Division III Championship.  In the Northern Division, coaches narrowly tabbed Itasca Community College to top the Division while Southern Division skippers state that they are chasing Riverland Community College for the Division championship this season. 

New coaches take over the dugouts at Riverland (Derek Hahn) and Ridgewater (Kevin Soine), while several mentors head into their second year in charge, including Tom Coombe (Vermilion), Sam Schumacher (Northland), Brian Voigt (Central Lakes) and Josh Knoll (Western Technical College).  Three coaches are in double-digit territory in their tenure, led by Justin Lamppa (Itasca Community College 22 years), Steve Hucke (RCTC, 17 years) and Josh Koenig (Rainy River Community College, 10 years).

Read on for more information regarding the 2019 MCAC Baseball season and Conference programs. 

For the MCAC Baseball home page, click here or go to: http://www.mcacsports.org/sports/bsb/index

Minnesota College Athletic Conference 

2019 Southern Division Baseball Poll & Preview 


MCAC South No. 1 

Riverland Community College

(RCC will be led by Derek Hahn in 2019, taking over for long-time coach Scott Koenigs this season)

Head Coach: Derek Hahn, 1st season with Riverland CC

Coaching Staff: Andrew Kaiser Assistant Coach

Top returning players

 Luis Rosario, Tao Baja, PR, C

Brad Morris, Warkworth, NZ, OF

Reinaldo Espada, Coamo, PR, 2B-P

Yadiel Ortiz, Patillas, PR, 3B-P

Gavin Roosen, Kenyon, MN, RHP-2B

Brady Braaten, Pine Island, MN, OF

Top incoming/new players:  

Alex Jeranek, West Salem, WI, P-1B

Yamil Ocasio, Caguas, PR, SS-P

Renzo Rodriguez, Miami, FL, OF

Nelson Gonzalez, Coamo, PR, P

Coach Hahn on the Blue Devil pitching staff in 2019: "We return a few experienced arms on the mound that had strong freshmen campaigns in Espada, Roosen, & Ortiz. We have several new arms that will be relied upon to step up in a variety of roles on a daily basis."

Coach Hahn on the Blue Devil pitching staff hitting and offense: "Several returners that were everyday guys as freshman. Good balance of speed, power, and ability to hit for a high average. Have good depth at all positions. Should be able to score runs."

MCAC South No. 2 

Rochester Community & Technical College

   (Jack Sperry, IF/OF)

     (Jeremiah Van De Steeg, P)  

Head Coach: Steve Hucke, 17th season at RCTC


Overall Record: 337-280-1

Coaching Staff: Dave Adams, Hitting Coach;  Brad Pfeffer, Pitching Coach

Top returning players:

Jeremiah Van De Steeg, P, Hutchinson, MN

Jack Sperry, 1B/OF, Rochester, MN

Ethan Hurn, C/IF/P, Granada, MN

Top incoming/new players:

Matt Rhodes, 3B/OF, Granger, IA

Zach Wolter, SS/2B, Lewisville, MN

Mitch McMurl, P, Winona, MN

Ben Strassman, P, Golden Valley, MN

Coach Hucke on Yellowjacket pitching for the 2019 season: "This is one of our deepest pitching staffs in awhile and really am excited to see how they do!"

Coach Hucke on the Yellowjacket offense is the 2019 season: "We have good quality hitters at all positions and have some depth this year."

Coach Hucke on his Yellowjacket pitching for the 2019 season: "Team has a very strong cohesion right now and really enjoy the game! Mix that with some talent and depth and we feel that we have a quality team."

MCAC South No. 3 

Minnesota West Community & Technical  College

(MnWest went 14-2 in the MCAC South and 29-17 overall last year.)

Head Coach: T. D. Hostikka, 5th season at Minnesota West CTC

Overall Record: 81-114

Coaching Staff: Jacob Barker, Pitching Coach; Tomas Varela, Volunteer Assistant

Top returning players:  

Joel Barker, Russellville, AR, RHP

Ricardo Reyes-Merced, Puerto Rico, RHP

Tucker Sorenson, Worthington, MN, OF/LHP

Darrius Johnson, Jackson, MN, INF/DH

Top incoming/new players: 

Trevor Stuckey, Lake Minneola, FL, RHP

Johnny Mieses, Everglades, FL, C

Christian Aviles, Immokalee, FL, MIF/RHP

Denzel Davelaar, Curacao, MIF

Coach Hostikka on Blue Jay pitching in the 2019 season: "We return RHP Joel Barker who won 5 games for us last season and finished 4th in the Nation in ERA. We have the depth and quality in our bullpen, that will need to translate on the field."

Coach Hostikka the Blue Jay offense in the 2019 season: "We return Darrius Johnson who hits for average and power. Johnny Mieses has the potential to hit well. As a team we need to go up to the plate with the right approach day in and day out."

Coach Hostikka on his Blue Jay squad in the 2019 season: "Our guys have really worked hard in the weight room and in their development. We are anxious to play outside and see what kind of team we are."

MCAC South No. 4 

Anoka-Ramsey Community College


(Cole Benson, C)   


(Jake Hanson, RHP/CF)  

Head Coach: Jason Saulsbury, 3rd year at ARCC

Overall Record: 21-47

Coaching Staff: CT Harris; Steve Janske; Travis Evenson; Jon Harris. 

Top returning players: 

Jake Hansen, Coon Rapids, MN, RHP/CF

Cole Benson, Hastings, MN, C

Thomas Blumer, Memphis,TN, 1B/3B

Patrick Taylor, Minneapolis, MN, 3B/DH

Kyle Nelson, Hailey, ID, RHP/2B

Rudy Rodriguez, Greenfield, WI, 1B/DH

Top incoming/new players: 

Dylan Conrad, Waukesha, WI, LHP/OF

Drew Jones, Sandy, UT, RHP/3B

Brandon Watkins, Kenosha, WI, OF

Mason Gallagher, Mounds View, MN 2B/SS

Coach Saulsbury on the Golden Ram pitching staff for 2019 season: "We return RHP Jake Hansen, who will be the ace of the pitching staff. Top 6 pitchers on staff look to be extremely solid. We have a ton of depth ... and a very talented freshman class."

Coach Saulsbury on the Golden Ram pitching staff for 2019 season:  "Again we return Jake Hansen, who is a two-way player for us. When he is not on the mound, he will be starting in CF for us. Also, returning are Cole Benson, Kyle Nelson, and Patrick Taylor, all who are coming off outstanding 2018 freshman seasons. A number of talented recruits join the Golden Rams ... It should be a tough line-up to get through, all 1-9."

Coach Saulsbury on his Golden Ram squad in the 2019 season: "We are coming off a tough 2018 season, where we saw a vast number of injuries to key players derail the season. Back at full strength here in 2019, our returning sophomores surrounded by a deep freshman class.  We will be traveling to Tucson, AZ over spring break, where we will play several NAIA, NCAA & NJCAA Division II programs."

MCAC South No. 5 

Western Technical College


Josh Knoll heads into his 2nd season in charge of the Cavaliers.   

                                                                        Head Coach: Josh Knoll, 2nd season at WTC

Coaching Staff: Peter Millar, Offense and Catching Coach;  Josh Thiede, Infield Coach; Jake Hurley, Infield and Strength & Conditioning Coach

Top returning player: 

Jakob Masterson, La Cresent, MN, P, 1B

Top incoming/new players:

Lance Johnson, Pepin, WI, SS

Corey Liebeher, New Berlin, WI, RHP

Kevin Brandt, Neilsville, WI, OF,P

Lucas Gosweher, Grafton, WI, OF

Coach Knoll on the Western Tech pitching for the 2019 season: "A lot of depth and a lot of new faces in the bullpen and starting rotation"

Coach Knoll on the Western Tech offense for the 2019 season: "A lot of depth and a lot of new faces to the lineup. Time will tell as the season goes on."

Coach Knoll on his Western Tech squad in the 2019 season.: "One pitch, one inning, one game at a time will be how we define this season and winning.


Minnesota College Athletic Conference 

2019 Central Division Baseball Poll & Preview 


MCAC Central No. 1 

St. Cloud Technical & Community College

   (Luis Massa, CF/P)

(Austin Gohl, RHP)

Head Coach: Jason Fischer, 8th season at SCTCC

Overall Record: 221-71

Coaching Staff: Bruce Thompson, Tyler Hebrink, Edwin Zambrana, Bryan Benson

Top returning players: 

Luis Massa, Costa Rica, PR, CF/P

Logan Aleshire, St. Cloud, MN, 3B/P

Austin Gohl, Sartell, MN, RHP

Brad White, Houston, TX, RHP

Hunter Malachek, Maple Lake, MN, LHP

Cole Wellmann, New Ulm, MN, RHP

Top incoming/new players: 

Daniel Mendoza, Juila de Burgos, PR, 1B

Jordan Mercado, Hialeah, FL, SS

Ronaldo Fernandez, Hialeah, FL, RHP

Yadiel Rolon, Manuel Cruz Maceira, PR, RHP

Coach Fischer on the Cyclone pitching staff in the 2019 season: "We return our top 4 pitchers from last year and our top bullpen guy. We added some quality depth to those guys. We should be relatively deep on the mound."

Coach Fischer on his Cyclone hitting & offense in the 2019 season: "We will have more power this year. Our line-up will be young but we should be able to scores some runs."

Coach Fischer on his Cyclone squad in the 2019 season: "We will once again play a difficult schedule on our spring trip to Orlando. The trip will be highlighted by playing perennial D III power Niagara CC."

MCAC Central No. 2 

Northland Community & Technical College

(Pioneer head coach Sam Schumacher led his team to a 23-17 record in his first year at the helm)

Head Coach: Sam Schumacher, 2nd season at Northland Community & Technical College

Overall Record: 24-17

Coaching Staff: Gabe Cavasos, Pitching Coach; Terry Wiseth Assistant Coach

Top returning players:

Enoc Rodriguez, San Antonio, TX, RHP/OF

Jose Hernandez, Ponce, Puerto Rico, INF

Josh Casavan, Red Lake Falls, MN, RHP

Jaed Rivera, Clearwater, FL, C

Josh Rivera, Toa Baja, PR, OF

Top incoming/new players:  

Josh Colunga, San Antonio, TX, OF

Joel Trevino, Uvalde, TX, INF

Kristopher Gonzalez, Cidra, PR, 1B/3B

Dylan Manderud, Goodridge, MN, RHP

Coach Schumacher on Pioneer pitching in the 2019 season: "We return Enoc Rodriguez who will anchor our staff. He lead the team in ERA and excelled in multiple roles last year. He was second on the team with a 3.06 ERA. We will be depending on a lot of freshmen to come in and compete for us on the mound."

Coach Schumacher on Pioneer offense in the 2019 season: "Enoc Rodriguez also did a great job hitting in the middle of our lineup. He hit .343, and was second on the teams in both HR's and RBI. He also walked more than he struck out. Jose Hernandez is another returner who looks to build off of a strong freshmen year."

Coach Schumacher on his Pioneer squad in the 2019 season: "I really like the energy our guys bring to baseball activities every day. We're a young team, but eager to get better. If this mindset continues we have a lot of potential as the year goes on."

MCAC Central No. 3 

 Central Lakes College


  (Joel Hinnenkamp, RHP)  


          (Josh Fussy, OF)      

Head Coach: Brian Voigt, 2nd season at Central Lakes College


Overall record: 13-64 

Coaching Staff: Kevin Peterson, Assistant Coach

Top returning players:

Josh Fussy, Buffalo, MN, CF

Eric Hinnenkamp, Long Praire, MN, RHP

Alan Pietila, Menahga, MN, RHP/UTL

Alex Guggisberg, New Ulm, MN, RHP/3B

Casey Welsh, Pequot Lakes, MN, OF/3B

Top incoming/new players:

Jake Kapphahn, Little Falls, MN, SS/RHP

Preston Rocheleau, Pierz, MN, INF/RHP

Phillip Zynda, Austin, MN, C

Alex Haapajoki, Brainerd, MN, 1B

Coach Voigt on Raider pitching in 2019:  "We are returning Eric Hinnenkamp that was really solid last year and had a great fall and good winter. Have had a few freshman follow suite and we will look to for innings."

Coach Voigt on Raider offense in 2019: "We return CF Josh Fussy who hit .382 with 17 extra-base hits and looks to build to a better sophomore year. Casey Welsh hit .400 for us last year. The returners bring a team avg of .366 along with some freshman that had really good falls.

Coach Voigt on his Raider squad in 2019.: "With the spring trip to Tucson, AZ nearing, the team is ready to get going with games. It is a hard working group that will see the results once the games come."

MCAC Central No. 4 

Ridgewater College

(Ridgewater is looking to rebound from a 7-20 season in 2018 under new head coach, Kevin Soine)

Head Coach: Kevin Soine, 1st season at Ridgewater College

Top returning players

Sheridan Brady, Estacada, OR, 1B

Jacob Willey, Fort Atkinson, WI, RHP-UTL

Jackson Kea, San Francisco, CA, C

Spencer Reedy, Waterloo, IA, 2B

Cameron Milner, Lubbock, TX, 3B-1B

Top incoming/new players: 

Josh Soine, New London, MN, OF

Noah Cunningham, Atwater, MN, UTL

Dawson Dinsmore, Phoenix, AZ, 3B-2B

Dalton Prielipp, Tomah, WI, C-RHP

Coach Soine on Warrior pitching for the 2019 season: "We will look to returners, Jacob Willey and Cameron Milner to lead our pitching staff this year. There is a huge opportunity for our freshman to step up and show what they can do."

Coach Soine on Warrior offense for the 2019 season: "We return Sheridan Brady and Jackson Kea who both have the potential to be forces in the middle of our lineup. Newcomer, Josh Soine brings a combination of power and speed to our team as well."

Coach Soine on his Warrior squad in the 2019 season: "As a new head coach, back in my hometown, we are looking to return to the traditional success Ridgewater Baseball has had. I could not be more honored and excited to lead this great group of young men. Our entire roster has bought-in to the challenge of this season and its incredible to watch them go to work together every day. The future is bright for Ridgewater Baseball and I can't wait to get the season rolling."

MCAC Central No. 5 

M State-Fergus Falls 


(Levi Arnold, P) 


(The Spartans open up 2019 in Florida this season)       

Head Coach: Cody Hughes, 3rd season at M State-Fergus Falls

Overall Record: 20-37 

Coaching & Support Staff: Zach Schroeder, Assistant Coach;  Mitch Carbert, Assistant Coach; Liz Skare, Athletic Trainer

Top returning players: 

Matt Pietsch, Fargo, ND, CF

Cody Arlt, Hutchinson, MN, C

Levi Arnold, Parker's Praire, MN, RHP

Ryan Schmitz, Perham, MN, 3B

Top incoming/new players:

Jake Dykhoff, Wadena, MN, RHP-3rd

Matt Hagen, Fargo, ND, RHP-SS

Eric Salveson, Fergus Falls, MN, RHP-SS

Mitch Porter, Breckinridge, MN RHP-OF

Coach Hughes on the Spartan pitching staff in the 2019 season: "We return Levi Arnold who has looked sharp this pre-season and will look to fill a big role for us as a starter. Our freshmen pitchers are going to big a big indicator of our success."

Coach Hughes on the Spartan offense in the 2019 season:  " We are returning OF Matt Pietsch who hit .452 for us last year striking out only 9 times the whole season. Cody Arlt, who hit .302, is another returner that will be a big part of our lineup. The 5-9 part of our order is going to have to step up for us and knock in some runs."

Coach Hughes on his Spartan squad for the 2019 season: "We play two top 10 opponents and two Hall of Fame coaches right away on our Florida trip. It will be fun to put ourselves to test right out of the gate."                                


Minnesota College Athletic Conference 

2019 Northern Division Baseball Poll & Preview 


MCAC North No. 1 

Itasca Community College

(Itasca was selected by Northern Division coaches as the team to beat in 2019)

Head Coach: Justin Lamppa, 22 years at Itasca CC

Overall Record: 608-349

Coaching Staff: Chris Brown Asst. Coach; Bill Hare Asst. Coach

Top returning players

Skyler Forst 3B,  Greenbush, MN

Riley Verisch 2B,  Hibbing ,MN

John Baker OF, Grand Rapids, MN

Mike Churpidia SS, Coleraine, MN

Nick Shea 1B, Coleraine, MN

Top incoming/new players

Morgan Kaupan, P/of Fargo ND

Euripides Mora, 1b/dh Dominican Republic

Noah Selb, P Andover, MN

Reggie Morrow, C Roseville, MN

Coach Lamppa on the Viking pitching staff in 2019: "We should have the ability to throw strikes and eat up innings."

Coach Lamppa on the Viking offense and hitting in 2019: "We will be young in the middle of the line-up. Growing pains hopefully are short lived."

Coach Lamppa on his Viking squad in 2019: "I am excited to see how this team will play."

MCAC North No. 2 

Rainy River Community College


(Brandon Holbert, IF)    


     (Phil Hindes, RHP)                 

Head Coach: Josh Koenig, 10th year at Rainy River CC

Overal Record: 149-200 

Coaching Staff: Bill Sohlman, Assistant Coach; Riley Acra, Assistant Coach; Dave Bernatz, Assistant Coach

Top returning players: 

Brandon Holbert, Tucson, AZ, SS

Phil Hindes, Tucson, AZ, RHP

George Pimentel, Santo Domingo, DR, 3B

Elijah Hart, Tucson, AZ, 1B

Taylor Shaw, Spirit, WI, LHP

Sam Fernandez, Yabucoa, Puerto Rico, RHP/IF

Top incoming/new players:  

Tyler Gray, Tucson, AZ, RHP

Vincent Rifici, Tucson, AZ, 3B

Miguel Vazquez, Guayama, Puerto Rico, C

Erik Sigurdson, Woodside, MB, Canada, RHP/1B

Coach Koenig on the Rainy River pitching staff in 2019: "We return RHP Phil Hindes who we will look to be the leader of our pitching staff, along with RHP Samuel Fernandez and LHP Taylor Shaw. Our team will be relying on our freshman class to step up in both starting roles and in relief."

Coach Koenig on the Rainy River offense in 2019:  "Offensively, we return both SS Brandon Holbert who hit .284, 5 HRs with 29 RBI and a .529 SLG% along with 3B George Pimentel who hit .290, 2 HRs and 22 RBI. We will need our freshman to step up and be an integral part of our offense."

Coach Koenig on his Rainy River squad in 2019: "We are excited for the opportunity to take another group of student/athletes and continue building a championship culture at Rainy River Community College. Additionally, our facility recently made some upgrades with a full size scoreboard and brand new dugouts thanks in part to the Minnesota Twins Grant."

MCAC North No. 3 

Hibbing Community College

(Evan Jerome, OF-P)   

  (Jaiman Lamphere, C) 

Head Coach: David Bevacqua, 8 years at Hibbing

Coaching Staff: Bob DeNucci, assistant coach

Top returning players: 

Jaiman Lamphere, Hibbing, MN, C

Braydon Borg, Brainerd, MN, OF

Evan Jerome, Glenwood, UT, OF-P

Chanler Dilday, Cloquet, MN, P-2B

Dylan Montagna, Anchorage, AK, 1B

Sammy Rivera, Fajardo, PR, SS

Top incoming/new players: 

Andrew Zamora, Luling, TX, RHP

Ray Santacruz, Lehi, UT, INF

Carson Dobias, Bountiful, UT, INF

Ramon Morales, Caguas, PR, 1B

Coach Bevacqua on the Cardinal pitching staff in 2019: "We have a lttle more pitching depth than we did last year. Three of our top five pitchers are sophomores. We are hopeful that this depth will help us in the close games."

Coach Bevacqua on the Cardinal offense in 2019: "We return 6 starters from last year, including all-conference players Dylan Montagna and Evan Jerome. We believe we'll have a well balanced offense."

Coach Bevacqua on his Cardinal squad in 2019: "We will start the season with a touch schedule during our spring trip in Florida, which includes Pasco-Hernando State College and a couple of NCAA D2 JV teams." 

MCAC North No. 4 

Vermilion Community College

(Tom Coombe likes what he sees in his 2019 VCC Ironmen team as he heads into his 2nd year)

Head Coach: Tom Coombe, 2nd season at Vermilion 

Overall Record: 9-18 

Top returning & incoming players:

Kyle Hintz,    New Prauge, MN   3B/P

Lukas Adelman,  Clinton-Graceville, MN P/SS

Connor Knettle,  Brainerd, MN  P 

Chase Bottin,  Sleepy Eye, MN OF

Caleb Berg,   Sleepy Eye, MN  C/1B

Dawson Linkert,  North Branch, MN    

Kaleb Bean,   Tallahassee, FL   IF/RHP

Coach Coombe on the Ironmen pitching staff in 2019: "We have some good raw materials and just need to develop our pitching depth."

Coach  Coombe on the Ironmen hitting & offense in 2019: "I think we will be able to hit the ball well this year.  It will be important to develop consistency in our line-up, 1-through-9."

Coach Coombe on his Ironmen squad in 2019: "Looking forward to the season; we have some solid new faces a really good core returning as sophomores."

MCAC North No. 5 

Mesabi Range College

(Kody Lindgren, P)    

(Christian Houle, IF/C)    

Head Coach: Chris Vito, 3rd season at Mesabi Range College

Overall Record: 22-47

Coaching Staff: Dave Kunz, Assistant Coach

Top returning players

Kody Lindgren, P,  Virginia, MN 

Joe Wenzel, OF/P, Babbitt, MN

Christian Houle, IF/C, Cloquet, MN

Brad MacDougall, 1B/P, Duluth, MN

Taylor Allen  C, Duluth, MN

Jarod Opsahl, 3B/C/P Lakeville, MN

Top incoming/new players: 

Blake Warner,  2B/OF,  Hastings, MN

Kyle Peterson, P/1B, Zim, MN

Coach Vito on his Mesabi Range pitching in 2019: "Our numbers are low with only 15 on the roster but 12 are sophomores who saw significant playing time as freshmen last season. I fully expect the northern division to be competitive from top to bottom and hope for us to be in the mix."

Coach Vito on his Mesabi Range hitting and offense in 2019: "We return a great deal of experience and hope this translates to solid offensive production."

Coach Vito on his Mesabi Range squad in 2019: "We play a competitive schedule both conference and non-conference. We are looking to improve with each game."


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About the Minnesota College Athletic Conference

The Minnesota College Athletic Conference is the organizational body for NJCAA-affiliated two-year technical and community college athletic programs in the Minnesota State system.  The mission of the Minnesota College Athletic Conference is to advance intercollegiate athletics by providing an engaging and supportive environment for success of our student athletes and competition among member institutions.  The MCAC is committed to the guiding principles of encouraging the development and success of student athletes, promoting the integrity, honesty and loyalty to member schools as well as upholding the sustainability of conference athletic programs.