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College baseball: JCC’s Decker powering potent offense

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Tyler Decker can’t really explain his extraordinary hitting streak.

However, he hopes it carries over to the last week of the Region 3 baseball season and into the postseason.

Decker has been the linchpin of an almost unprecedented offensive tear for the Jefferson Community College Cannoneers, who have become a legitimate Region 3 Division 3 contender with the region’s best hitting attack.

The sophomore out of South Jefferson is leading all of Region 3 in runs batted in with 53. He is also among the leaders in batting average (.486), doubles (13), and is in the top five in almost every offensive category.

With Decker, and Watertown High School freshman Kyle Simmons leading the way, JCC has scored 112 runs during its current eight-game win streak.

After sweeping visiting Columbia-Greene CC in an East Division doubleheader Thursday at the Alex T. Duffy Fairgrounds, 23-2 and 13-3 in five-inning routs, the Cannoneers (20-11 overall, 14-2 division) find themselves battling Herkimer County CC for the No. 1 spot in the East, and a top two seed in the upcoming regional tournament.

Decker began his day with a grand slam in the first inning of the opener, and finished it with a three-run shot in the fourth inning of the nightcap.

He finished 5-for-8, driving in nine runs, as JCC banged out 18 hits in the opener and 16 more in the second game.

Decker said he’s simply enjoying the ride and doesn’t care how or why it is happening.

“I really wanted to improve on my last year’s stats,’’ said Decker, who batted .352 with 40 RBIs during his freshman season. “But to be this hot, when we’re fighting for playoff position, is just amazing. There is no explanation other that I’m seeing the ball well and hitting it hard.’’

How good has the 6-foot-5, 240-pound first baseman been of late? In the past eight games, he is batting a robust .625, going 25-for-40, with an amazing 27 RBIs.

Last week, when he was named the Region 3 Male Athlete of the Week for the second time this season, Decker batted .703 (17-for-24) with 13 runs, five doubles, two triples and 17 RBIs.

Head coach John Northrop said the secret to Decker’s success is “he’s hitting the ball where it is pitched, and to all fields. And he’s been very patient, working ahead in the count and hitting the pitches he wants.’’

Decker credits the hitters ahead of him in the lineup, Nathan Mastervick, Louie Diaz and Simmons, for his incredible RBI totals. “Those guys always seem to be on base when I’m up, so it’s been pretty easy to knock them in.’’

Thursday, all three were on in the top of the first when Decker took Columbia-Greene starter Jon Halligan’s first pitch over the wall for his second homer of the season.

Decker also singled during the Cannoneers’ seven-run second, and smacked a two-run double in the third as JCC scored three more times.

Decker played summer baseball with Sherrill in the New York Collegiate Baseball League. He said getting all those extra at-bats gave him a leg up this season.

“I’ve really felt comfortable all season, but really confident the past couple of weeks,’’ said Decker, who has already signed to play for Division II Adelphi University next year. “Knowing what I’m going to do next year took some of the pressure off to have a big season. So I’m just enjoying this year.’’

Simmons has been just as hot as Decker of late. The rookie shortstop is now batting .500 after going 4-for-5 with four RBIs in Thursday’s first game, and 2-for-2 in the nightcap with another RBI. He has 43 RBIs on the season.

“Everybody is hitting,’’ Simmons said. “I’m seeing so many good pitches because Tyler is hitting so well. And I’m helping him because I’ve been getting on base a lot.’’

Freshman Ariel Suriel also delivered a three-run homer and an RBI single in the opener, and went 3-for-3 in the second game. Diaz finished 3-for-4 with three RBIs in the first game, while Nicolas Espino was 3-for-3 in the second game.

JCC’s pitching has also been excellent. Carthage sophomore Josh Amann went to 6-0 on the season by allowing just four hits in the opener. Jordan Delaney of General Brown spaced five hits in five innings in the second game.

“We don’t want to get ahead of ourselves, but we know how good we can be,’’ said Northrop, who is expecting his first child, a son, this weekend. “We just want to finish strong, and give ourselves a shot at making the regionals and maybe winning.’’

With Decker and Co. wielding such hot bats, that may become a reality.

SUNY CANTON 8, HAMILTON 7

Jordan Hunneyman went 3-for-4, including a home run, and drove in two runs to lead SUNY Canton past the Continentals (13-19) in a nonconference game in Clinton.

Braden Giffin also went 3-for-4 for SUNY Canton (10-19). Eddy Morel went 2-for-3 with two RBIs for SUNY Canton.

Zachary Becker produced four hits for Hamilton and Sam Fuentes went 3-for-5 and drove in two runs.

SOFTBALL

TOMPKINS-CORTLAND CC 7-10, JEFFERSON CC 0-2

Seneca Baldwin surrendered only one hit and struck out 11 as the Panthers took the opener en route to a sweep of a Region 3 doubleheader in Dryden.

Taylor Policay smack a grand slam in the nightcap for Tompkins-Cortland Community College (9-7).

Kari Gehrke slapped an RBI double for Jefferson CC (8-12) in game two.

WOMEN’S LACROSSE

ROBERTS WESLEYAN 15, SUNY CANTON 11

Loren Dunn scored six goals as Roberts Wesleyan (7-7) defeated the Kangaroos in a nonconference contest in Canton.

Ali Fox scored three times and Lauren Marks supplied two goals for Roberts Wesleyan.

Keeley Rice led SUNY Canton (5-8) with a six-goal effort. Brittani Bessette scored three goals and Robyn Carroll and Caitlin LaVoie also scored for the Kangaroos.

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