Thunderbirds face playoff test: Season finale preview

The MCC Thunderbirds baseball club has faced many opponents this season. This April, the boys in red and white have slipped a bit, losing two straight to the Pumas of Pima Community College in Tucson. Because of the stumbles, the Thunderbirds could fall to number three in the NJCAA rankings.  The club tore through competition in March, recording a 15-4 record over 19 games while at one point enjoying a 10-game win streak.  April has seen the Thunderbirds stumble a bit, recording a 5-5 record, with an uncommon four-game losing streak that was ended recently with a split series win with GateWay Community College.  “These guys will be there. They know when to turn it on,” Tony Cirelli emphasized. The recent losses hasn’t discouraged the MCC skipper or any of the players.  “The players keep grinding, they’re not blaming each other for a booted ball or a bad at bat.  It’s a good sign.”

The Thunderbirds are at risk of losing their No. 1 ranking, possibly slipping in the coaches poll to as far back as No. 3.  “Where we are doesn’t matter. Just get in to the playoffs. Anything can happen then,” Cirelli added.  “We’ve been fortunate that all the guys on the club, no matter what line up is drawn together have picked it up and produced for us. We don’t need one man to carry us.”  One of those players that has been producing for the Thunderbirds to help the club overcome injury to other veterans like Tyler Carvalho and Jordan Zimmerman is freshman Mitchel Morimoto.   Standing at 6 foot even, the left fielder cut an imposing figure from the right side of the plate.  So far this season Morimoto has hit .401/.436/.640 respectively while collecting four home runs.  Fleet footed for his size, he has managed to swipe 11 stolen bases so far this season in a concerted effort to help his club win games.

“We’re taking one game at a time, focusing on the little things. We’re not trying to do too much,” Morimoto said.  Considering the approaching end of the season and the upcoming playoffs, he added “I’m looking forward to competing. It’s something that I’ve never done before.” With a deep roster, the Thunderbirds represent a threat in the Region 1 playoffs which are set to begin Thursday, April 30.  Currently the club is No. 2 in the Region, with a ticket to the playoffs assured.  The only detail left to decide over the next six games would be finishing as high as the top seed and hosting the entire time during Regionals.  “Anything can happen in the playoffs,” Cirelli said.



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These are archived stories from Mesa Legend editions before Fall 2018. See article for corresponding author.

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