By Andrew Johnson
MUSKEGON – Most colleges are in final exam season, so it’s only fitting that the Muskegon Community College baseball team is currently facing its biggest test of the year.
The Jayhawks are currently sixth in the Michigan Community College Athletic Association standings with a 17-19 overall record and a 10-9 league mark. The Jayhawks have only seven games remaining in the regular season, all conference games.
In order to qualify for regional postseason play, the Jayhawks will need to hold their positon in the top six. MCC is currently a half-game ahead of Delta College for sixth place and a half game behind Grand Rapids Community College for fifth.
In total, the Region 12 tournament will be comprised of six teams from the MCCAA and two from the OCCAC conference in Ohio. The double elimination tournament, scheduled for May 18-21 in Battle Creek, will be seeded one through eight. The winner of the tournament advances to the National Junior College Athletic Association Division 2 World Series in Oklahoma.
If the Jayhawks fail to qualify for the postseason, it would be the first time since 2012.
“I think 15 conference wins will get us in,” said Jayhawk Coach Greg Guzman. “The goal is always to get to regionals, regardless of record, and that’ll be how we justify if we’ve had a successful season or not.”
While the Jayhawks have put themselves in position to make the postseason, things didn’t look promising for the team early in the season.
After losing a doubleheader to Grand Rapids Community College at home on April 14 and dropping to 9-15 overall, Guzman called out his team for not playing up to its potential.
“We just haven’t put it together yet, one game it’s pitching and the next game it’s hitting,” the coach said at the time. “We’re in the mid-season. It’ll be a short year if we don’t figure it out and get it going.”
The Jayhawks responded by winning eight of nine games in a stretch between April 16 and April 23.
“We’ve just been playing a little more aggressive and the kids are playing better,” Guzman said. “We had some 10 to 12 day gaps (in the schedule) that made rhythm hard early in the season. We’re getting our feet under us and playing every other day, and playing more will you get in a groove.”
During the winning streak the Jayhawks were led by shortstop Colin McClelland with a .406 batting average, while Jordan Wahr paced the Jayhawk pitching staff with a 2-1 record and a 2.60 ERA.
The team’s fortunes turned again over the past week, when the Jayhawks lost three straight games, scoring only four combined runs in the process.
MCC will now most likely need to win five of its seven remaining games to keep its postseason hopes alive.
The Jayhawks host Kalamazoo Valley on Tuesday before traveling to Jackson College on May 4 for a makeup game.
Muskegon will host Macomb Community College on May 7 before traveling to St. Clair County Community College on May 10 to finish the regular season. All matchups will be doubleheaders except for the Jackson makeup.
“We have to win five of these games,” Guzman said. “I think we’ll win six of them, which will probably be good enough to put us in fifth place.”