By Turner Blaufuss
The MSUM club baseball team is 14-7, and teams are taking notice. In the last Division II poll, the Dragons were ranked 14th in the nation with 120 teams at their level. MSUM coach Matt Peck is happy with his team’s play and hopes it can carry over to conference play.
“Everything’s going good right now, and we’re looking forward to playing some more now that the weather’s getting so nice,” Peck said. “We had 12 games in the fall and seven in Florida, and we’re excited to play some more.”
The Dragons traveled to Florida for their spring break and took care of business going 4-3. Two of the victories came against Division I teams including the highly ranked Iowa team. However, the Dragons didn’t move up in the polls following their productive trip.
“I was getting a lot of texts from the league office saying they were surprised we didn’t move up in the polls, but we’ll see if we do this week,” Peck said.
The Dragons are 5-1 in conference play and are in first place. MSUM hopes to win their conference and punch their tickets to the regional tournament in Sheboygan, Wis., where the Dragons placed second last year.
One of the keys to MSUM’s success is Eric Hulterstum. The senior slugger is batting .305 with 19 RBI’s and plays all over the field. Hulterstrum’s RBI rank is third in all of Division II.
“(Hulterstrum) is hitting the ball really well, and his versatility is great for us defensively,” Peck said. “He’s been a big help for us the past couple years, and we hope he keeps doing well.”
Another man with a hot bat is catcher John Sawatzky. Sawatzky is batting a whopping .411 with a pair of homers and seven doubles.
“(Sawatzky) is having a great year. He’s hitting very well,” Peck said. “He’s another one of our big hitters, and we hope he keeps it up.”
On the mound, Tyler Schmidt is the Dragons’ ace. Schmidt is ranked third in the country in ERA and first in wins. Schmidt is known for his control and location of his fastball and for his deadly curve ball.
“Leading the nation in wins is really a nice stat to have, and Tyler’s doing great this year,” Peck said. “He’s got four wins for us, and only one other pitcher has four wins so far this year.”
The Dragons’ next game is Saturday against Winona State in Winona.