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Mark DeCotis, Athletic Communications

Office:  321-433-5700, 321-759-4540 (C)

Stretch Run Begins for BCC Baseball with Conference Tournament Berth in Sight

April 3, 2013 - With its final rotation through the Florida College System Activities Association Southern Conference schedule beginning on Friday and with a spot in the postseason conference tournament within its grasp, the Brevard Community College baseball team is spending this week re-grouping and looking ahead.

Despite a three-game conference losing streak that has dropped its record from 6-7 to 6-10 BCC holds the fourth and final postseason qualifying spot. Fifth-place Indian River State is 4-13 in conference.

BCC is 18-18-1 overall. The Titans finished 21-23 overall in 2012 and 8-16 in the conference. Under Jeff Tam, who took over as head coach after veteran Ernie Rosseau stepped down in March, BCC was 11-10 overall and 7-7 in conference games.

Now Tam and assistant coaches Oscar Restrepo and Jose Soto are seeking the formula to get BCC back on the winning track beginning with Friday's 5 p.m. game against Broward College at Bruce Bochy Field on the Melbourne Campus. Admission is free.

Broward is 9-8 in conference and has beaten the Titans three times in four meetings. Palm Beach State is 8-9.

"For us to put together eight quality baseball games it just comes down to simple execution," Tam said. "That's making pitches and hitting behind runners and getting bunts down when they are supposed to.

"Some of those tough games we are going to have to really buckle down in two-out at-bats with runners in scoring position and start to take advantage and cash some of those runs in. On the whole for the season that's been kind of one of our tough spots that we really haven't executed in."

And at the level of junior college baseball in Florida – widely recognized and acknowledged as among the toughest in the nation - execution and effort often are determining factors.

"If they go out and they play as hard as they possibly can I have no problems with that," Tam said. "But it's always a process in this game. If you rely on your last at-bat or the last inning you pitched, and you just sit on that, it's tough because you continually have to get better every time out.

"It's a constant evolution to try to get these kids to be successful on a regular basis."

BCC follows Friday's game with a 1 p.m. trip to Broward on Saturday. It then meets Indian River in a two-game set, hosting the Pioneers at 6 p.m. Tuesday, April 9, and traveling to Fort Pierce at 5 p.m. on Wednesday, April 10.

The Titans wrap up the regular season with a Friday-Saturday, April 12-13 two-game set with first-place and nationally-ranked Miami Dade and an April 16-17 two-game set with Palm Beach State.

Pitching wise freshman Kenton Hering of Melbourne, FL, and Viera High, is tied for 11th nationally in strikeouts with 59. Hering is 3-2 in nine starts with a 2.20 earned run average over 45 innings.

Closer Chris Gilmore, a freshman from Orlando, FL, and Lyman High, is 4-2. His four saves rank him 14th nationally.

Offensively, shortstop Chris Dennis of Rockledge, FL and Rockledge High, is tied for third nationally in hits with 60 and is seventh in total bases (89). He has set the tone for BCC in the lead-off position and will be counted on as the pressure ratchets up.

"Chris is one of the best pure hitters you will ever come across," Tam said. "He has an ability to almost know what the pitcher is trying to do but also has the ability to execute his plan and swing consistently which is leading to his success at the plate.

"I never have any issues when he is as the plate. Succeed or fail."

As for his team as a whole: "So far we're doing OK," Tam said. "We haven't played our best baseball. At times we play very well and can compete. But we're just not there on a daily basis yet."

They've got eight more games to get there.

"Last year we were on the very bottom chasing everybody," Tam said. "We at least have an opportunity to squeeze into that conference tournament which hasn't happened in a while around here.

"We just need to keep ourselves there and hopefully we can even move up a spot or two, you never know."