Tech star on a tear as baseball playoffs approach

Tech star on a tear as baseball playoffs approach

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Tech star on a tear as baseball playoffs approach

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Jake Samuelson is hitting the ball extremely well for the St. Cloud Tech baseball team. In fact, he has been as hot as this spring has been cold and miserable.

“We haven’t had anybody have a season like he’s having in a long time,” Tech head coach Steve Taylor said.

Going into Thursday’s doubleheader with Sartell, the senior third baseman was batting .481 with a .492 on-base percentage and a .926 slugging percentage (a 1.416 OPS).

In 54 at-bats, he had 26 hits, nine doubles, five home runs and 30 RBI. He struck out six times, walked twice and was hit by one pitch.

Yeah, he’s hitting really well.

“I’m seeing pitches consistently,” Samuelson said. “Every day, I’m seeing the pitched ball really well.

“I’m just seeing the ball really well right now.”

Tech took a 9-8 record into Thursday’s doubleheader and should be in line for a top-four seed when the Section 8-3A playoffs begin Monday. Coaches are supposed to seed Friday, though there are a number of games to be played.

QRF rankings on the Minnesota-Scores.net site are being used. Going into Thursday’s action, Section 8-3A looked this way: No. 16 Alexandria (13-5), No. 28 Sauk Rapids (8-6), No. 31 BigLake (14-5), No. 35 Tech (9-8), No. 43 Bemidji (11-6), No. 47 St. Michael-Albertville (9-7), No. 48 Rocori (11-6), No. 52 Brainerd (12-6), No. 53 Monticello (10-8), No. 54 St. Cloud Apollo (8-9), No. 78 Moorhead (10-10) and No. 92 Sartell (3-12).

QRF ranks strength of schedule and quality of wins among other factors to determine its rankings. Based on QRF, Alexandria is rated as the 16th best Class 3A team in the state and so on.

Top seeds will host first- and second-round games Monday, with survivors advancing to the next round Thursday, May 30. The playoffs continue June 3, with the finals set for June 4 and June 5, if necessary, at a site to be determined.

In the mix

Tech’s in the mix in the section with an improved squad from a 2012 team that went 4-17.

“It’s been a blast this year,” Samuelson said. “Everybody has real good team chemistry. Everyone gets a long.”

“It’s fun,” said Tech shortstop Chase Aleshire, who leads the Tigers with a .483 batting average. “It’s just a group of guys this year who come ready to play good ball every day.”

Taylor said the biggest difference in Samuelson this season is confidence. He batted worse than .200 as a junior.

“He’s stronger, too,” Taylor said. “He’s a little bit more mature.

“A year of maturity has done a lot for him. And he competes. He’s a three-sport athlete and that’s helped him a lot in my opinion.”

Samuelson, listed generously at 6-foot-2 and 230 pounds in football, was a starting lineman. He also was a key skater on the boys hockey team.

College bound

Samuelson is headed to Northern State University in Aberdeen, S.D., to continue his baseball career. It’s an NCAA Division II school in the NSIC, the same conference as St. Cloud State.

He said he also considered Ohio University, Belmont (Kent.) and Mayville (N.D.) State while talking to St. Cloud State.

“I’m really excited to go there,” Samuelson said. “The coaching staff is real laid back, nice. It’s not a big college, which is just my kind of atmosphere. I can’t wait to get out there.”

He hopes to major in environmental science with an eye toward working for the Department of Natural Resources. His minors might be sociology and/or criminal justice.

In the meantime, he hopes to help Tech have a strong finish to the baseball season, followed by a summer playing amateur baseball for his hometown Clear Lake Lakers.

He has a batting cage and pitching machine in his backyard. That and dedicating himself in the weight room has helped him have a memorable senior season.

“It has been fun,” Samuelson said.

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