Warriors baseball ascends to No. 1 in NJCAA poll

March 27, 2019

MOUNT CARMEL -- Fans who’ve been lucky enough to catch the Wabash Valley College Warriors baseball team early this year have been treated to a truly well-rounded ballclub.

Boasting a blend of explosive hitting and lockdown pitching, the Warriors (21-1) currently ride a 19-game winning streak and have been dominating foes as the weather has begun to warm up. They’ve won six of their last seven games by 10 or more runs and show no signs of regression.

On Tuesday the NJCAA Division I Baseball Poll Committee released their fourth poll of the season, in which they awarded the Warriors the No. 1 spot, in recognition of their blistering start to the season.

Rounding out the top five of the poll, Walters State (26-5) checks in at No. 2, Southern Nevada (27-4) was voted third, McLennan (25-7) moved up two spots to No. 4, and Central Florida (29-5) dropped from No. 1 to No. 5 in the poll, having gone 1-2 in their last three games. Walters State, Southern Nevada and Northwest Florida State all received first place votes along with the Warriors. WVC received six first place votes.

Wabash Valley’s hitting has relied on situational hitting, getting walks, stealing bases, the little things needed to get runners in scoring position. Ranking first nationally in OBP (.506), fifth in batting average (.354), and second in stolen bases (117). They’ve been quite efficient as well, having converted 117 of their 122 stolen base attempts. Head coach Rob Fournier specifically mentioned these stats as points of emphasis that they focus on.

Four Warrior hitters stick out in their lineup, leadoff hitter and center fielder Noah Myers, second basemen Brian Fuentes, catcher Zade Richardson, and first baseman Cael Baker. Myers is hitting for a .351 clip, with 18 RBIs, 29 runs scored and is a menace on the base path, swiping 35 stolen bases. Fuentes is hitting an efficient .390 with two home runs and 20 RBIs. Richardson boasts a .424 average, complemented by a trio of homers and 22 RBIs. Lastly, Baker has been arguably the most impressive at the plate. The University of Cincinnati transfer boasts a .463 BA with five homers, 31 RBIs and 25 runs scored.

Combined with their hitting, the Warriors rotation has been excellent, proven by their ranking of third in ERA (1.51) and seventh in BA allowed (.189). Four of their pitchers have at least four wins on the season, southpaw Antoine Kelly (4-0, 0.93 ERA), righty Jon Beymer (4-0, 0.45 ERA), lefty Cameron Tullar (4-0, 1.40 ERA), and right-hander Ryan O’Connell (4-1, 1.31 ERA). The tandem is complemented by closer CJ Weins (2-0, four saves, 20 Ks).

Wabash Valley’s next home matchup will come on Thursday (March 28) when they host Kaskaskia College. First pitch is slated for 3 p.m. and it’s expected to be 64 degrees and cloudy on gameday.