APTOS — The Cabrillo College Seahawks are back in the California Community College Athletic Association Super Regionals and their opponent is a familiar one. They’ll travel to Fremont Friday to take on their rival the Ohlone College Renegades in a best-of-three series.

For a Seahawks team that head coach Bob Kittle sees as one of his most talented squads he’s ever had, this is part of an overall season goal of reaching the finals in Fresno.

The Seahawks (29-13, 13-5) battled with Ohlone (38-4, 17-1) for the Coast Conference Pacific title throughout the conference schedule, going 1-2 against the eventual champions. Despite handing the Renegades their only conference loss of the year — the Seahawks beat Ohlone at Cabrillo in the 10th inning on March 25 — the other two games were rather forgettable for Kittle.

“We played our worst offensive game of the year and our worst defensive game of the year in those two games against Ohlone,” Kittle said.

The discouraging losses aside, the Seahawks have been hot and getting hotter this spring, winning 12 straight games mid-season en-route to a second-place finish in the conference. With playoff baseball in mind, they have tried to keep things loose, including an optional shirts and skins practice on Monday.

“They’re focused, but they’re loose; we had a shirtless practice yesterday and it was probably our best practice of the year, they were very focused,” Kittle said. “They can smell it in the air. It’s the playoffs, the end of the season and the end of many of their careers here. It’s a little more tangible. Our goal from the beginning was to get to Fresno and they’re very focused.”

Clayton Andrews has one stat that should have sabermetric-heads drooling. In 32 2/3 innings pitched this season, he has 57 strikeouts to only one walk. One.

Oh yeah, he’s also the speedy leadoff hitter, centerfielder and the best all-around weapon for the Seahawks.

“He’s the best player in Northern California, he’s the best centerfielder, he’s one of the best hitters and he’s probably one of the best relief pitchers,” Kittle said. “It’ll be hard to replace him. Actually, we won’t be able to replace him.”

The minuscule walk rate varies significantly in comparison to his hefty .400 batting average. With five triples, 15 stolen bases and a great glove in center, Andrews is trying to end his career at Cabrillo in a big way before he leaves to play for nationally ranked Cal State Long Beach.

“We’re really confident about the matchup, we know our opponent, we know what they have and we’re really confident that we’ll play well,” Andrews said. “We have to go right at them. None of us are afraid of them. When we play like we think we can play, we can beat anybody.”

Starting pitcher sophomore Brett De Geus will take the hill on Friday, followed by the ambidextrous Alex Trautner (he can throw left and right), who will pitch on Saturday, and Cooper Krug will close the series on Sunday if necessary.  

“Brett has been fantastic all year, he’ll probably be an All-American pitcher,” Kittle said. “Trautner has been really tough and so has Krug. With Tyler Biersdorff and Cam White our bullpen has been really good. We got a real good staff.”

Staff ace De Geus is feeling confident going into Friday but is also feeling a bit burned after taking in too much sun in the shirts-and-skins practice. Nevertheless, his 1.63 ERA gives the Seahawks a pitching advantage over the Renegades.

“We’re just trying to keep it loose but our focus is still on the playoffs,” De Geus said. “Pitching in the playoffs is what we look forward to all year. It’s what we play for, getting to the final four and winning a state title is our goal.”

Sophomore catcher Nick Ciandro echoes the confidence and calm of De Geus.

“I just treat it like another game, just go out and have fun,” Ciandro said. “We just gotta play like we did last week (against Merced). We just got to play our game, we can beat anyone if we play like that.”

The Seahawks face a strong and very fast Renegades lineup, headlined by the slugging sophomores Ryan Ruley and catcher Thaddeus Phillips. Both Ruley and Phillips hit for power, average and take advantage of the contours of their home field.

“They have a very small field to left field and they have lots of right handed hitters, so they like to pull and lift the ball,” Kittle said. “They have very good foot speed and they battle really hard with two strikes. They’re tough outs.”

Down the stretch, sophomore outfielder Jairus Richards put up strong offensive numbers, ending the season with a .348 average and Biersdorff went from behind the plate to the mound, posting a sparkling 1.61 ERA. Sophomore shortstop Adam Rossit was smoking hot in the two-game sweep of Merced College in the first round of the playoffs, collecting eight hits in ten at-bats with three RBIs.

Editor’s note: Bryce Stoepfel is a Cabrillo College student-intern working through the Pat and Rowland Rebele Fund.

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