Warrior baseball cracks top 20 with 8-0 start

Feb. 26—MILLINGTON, Tn. — The Indian Hills baseball team's impressive start to the season continued over the weekend with four more victories at USA Baseball Stadium as the Warriors swept their way through the Babe Howard JUCO Classic. Indian Hills moved to 8-0 on the year with back-to-back undefeated weekends in Millington.

The Warriors scored four wins over the weekend by outscoring their opponents 25-8. Indian Hills opened up the weekend with an 8-2 win over Elgin Community College before closing out the day on Saturday with a 4-1 win over Volunteer State Community College. The Warriors posted its highest-scoring output to open Sunday with a 9-2 win over Triton College and rallied in the finale to drop St. Louis Community College 4-3.

The 8-0 start on the year is the best since the Warriors opened up the 2021 campaign with a 16-0 mark. The Warriors have won their first eight contests to open the year for just the third time over the last 21 seasons.

Indian Hills garnered national attention with their perfect start to the season as the Warriors broke into the national rankings on Monday, checking in at No. 20 in the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Division I baseball poll. The Warriors cracked the top-20 for the first time since the preseason poll of the 2018 season where the program sat at No. 19 in the national rankings.

Freshman Endi Jaquez powered the offense with a .500 batting average, four runs scored, three RBI, and five stolen bases. Sophomore J.J. Dutton drove in six runs on the weekend, including a three-RBI performance against Triton, while adding five runs scored.

The Warrior pitching staff saw four impressive starts on the mound with all four starters combining for a 1.77 earned run average. Sophomore Jodan Scholl produced his best outing of his collegiate career with six scoreless frames against Volunteer State, allowing just two hits in the win.

In the opener against Elgin, the Warriors struck first as Dutton delivered an RBI single to score Logan Myers. Indian Hills used a four-run third to pull away from the Spartans as Miguel Padron delivered a two-run double in the frame. Indian Hills tacked on single runs over the next three innings to secure the victory.

Freshman Kurtis Smith improved to 2-0 on the mound this year with six strikeouts in five innings of work while Carlos Valenzuela tossed a pair of scoreless innings to close out the game.

The Warriors struck first in game two vs. Volunteer State with a run-scoring single from Jaquez. The early run provided all the support Scholl needed as the sophomore hurled six shutout frames, facing just 19 batters. The Warrior offense tacked on three runs in the bottom half of the sixth, including an RBI double to score Myers.

Sunday's opener saw the Warriors erupt for three runs in the top half of the first, powered by a two-run double from Dutton and an RBI single from Thomas Maathuis. Dutton and Maathuis provided back-to-back RBI knocks in the third to extend Indian Hills' lead to 5-2. The Warriors added four runs over the next three innings to run away with its third win of the weekend.

Dutton finished the contest 3-4 with three RBI and three runs while Maathuis added two hits. Andrei Gordeev the reigning Iowa Community College Athletic Conference (ICCAC) Pitcher of the Week, struck out five in four innings to secure the win on the mound. Zach Dawson and Lou Levy tossed three scoreless innings to cap the win.

The tightest contest of the weekend came in the finale against St. Louis. Dutton opened the scoring for the Warriors with a sac fly in the third before Jaquez delivered a run-scoring single in the fourth. The Archer offense came to life in the fifth with three runs to give Indian Hills its first deficit of the weekend. With one out in the sixth, the Warriors took advantage of a pair of free passes before a St. Louis error allowed both to cross the plate and re-gain the lead, 4-3. Freshman Aiden Ennis tossed a scoreless seventh inning to close out the game for his first career save.

Freshman Cole Huebner allowed just one earned run in 4 2/3 innings of work while Tomoki Jitsukawa was credited with the win with 1 1/2 innings of scoreless relief before Ennis slammed the door.

The Warriors return to action on Friday for a four-game city against Cowley Community College in Arkansas City, Kansas.