As the regular season comes to a close for the Mesa Community College baseball team, the season that matters for the T-Birds is about to begin.
Clinching the region championship for the fifth time since 2003, Mesa will spend little time celebrating, and more time focusing on the greater challenge ahead.
Sitting at a record 40-14(22-14 ACCAC), the T-Birds have played tough in the last month of the season.
One of the keys to the success for Mesa is taking care of business at Legend Field. The T-Birds have gone 29-5 at home this season, 7-1 in the month of April.
“It’s key to get victories on your own field,” coach Tony Cirelli said.
The T-Birds are led by their two captains, Zach Nothwehr and Michael Wesolowski.
Nothwehr, or “mighty” as his teammates call him, leads by his balls to the wall attitude towards the game.
“I have to continue the tradition that has been set here by the players of the past,” Nothwehr said “it is an honor to play on this field.”
Nothwehr pointed to the outfield fence with the names of former greats that played at MCC displayed on the outfield fence.
Nothwehr is hitting .385 on the season with 57 hits, nine doubles and a triple.
Wesoloski was a 2011 All-American and has continued to impress this season. He is hitting .411, with 58 hits, 12 for doubles and a triple. He has also scored 44 times this season and has a .506 on-base percentage.
“Those guys walk the walk and day after day, they come to the ballpark and play the game the way it is suppose to be played,” coach Cirelli said “that’s why they are our team captains.”
Michael Desabrais, Steven Matta and Kevin Behnke make up the three headed monster that leads the T-Bird pitching.
Combined, all three pitchers have tossed 172 innings, struck out 117 batters and have only allowed 138 hits.
“During the middle of the season, our pitching became inconsistent,” coach Cirelli said “but they focused, took the game one pitch at a time and that has made the difference in the second half of the season.”
The nail in the coffin for the T-Birds is their closer, Charlie Land.
Land has 12 saves this year, which is a school record.
Land has appeared in 22 games and pitched 36 innings, striking out 29 and only allowing 7 walks.
“Our guys have total confidence in Charlie when we put him in,” coach Cirelli said.
Cirelli also said that Mesa has not blown a lead all season.
“The thing we continue to focus on as a team is to take one pitch at a time, one game at a time and not to get overwhelmed,” coach Cirelli said “baseball is a game that can’t be complicated.”
Mesa will host the #4 seed in a best of three series, May 3, 4 and May 5 if necessary at MCC.