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Archers Pitching Gets Tested in Early Southern Swing

Brandon Gutlzer

Sophomore outfielder Brandon Gutzler is one of the top returning hitters for the Archers. Gutzler batted .382 with 22 extra base hits last season.

St. Louis Community College baseball coach Scott Goodrich did not sugar-coat the situation his Archers were in as they opened the season with six games in three days.

“Six games in three days, this is going to test us by Monday,” Goodrich said at the outset of the Southern road trip Feb. 13-15. “It’s going to be an opportunity for a lot of guys.”

Opportunity met adventure at times as the Archers took on East Central College and Baton Rouge Community College. STLCC emerged 2-4 overall, earning a split against East Central before dropping three of four in Louisiana.

The Archers were able to grab a 9-3 win over Baton Rouge on their final day of the trip, in a game that was much more indicative of the team Goodrich expects to see this spring.

The Archers return a talented offensive nucleus from a year ago, to the extent that Goodrich and company refrained from heavily investing recruiting efforts toward position players.

“I think our success last year was really centered around the fact that we had a plan offensively,” Goodrich said. “We identified the type of team we were going to be, and we didn’t ask guys to do things they weren’t capable of. We have a number of returners. Five of our first six in our lineup are sophomores. We had eight hits between them in our first game. We have some key cogs coming back and (we know) what we’re trying to accomplish.”

The Archers’ vaunted lineup is led by outfielder Brandon Gutzler, who batted .382 with five home runs and 47 RBI in just 178 at-bats. Twenty-two of his 68 hits went for extra bases.

Instead of adding to what already represented a strength, the Archers spent much of the offseason bolstering their pitching staff, often in the form of two-way players who will see nearly equal time on the mound and in the field.

“We have five catchers, but of those five, three of them really play other positions well,” Goodrich said. “It’s good to not have too many guys, where guys are sitting around, but at the same time, they can compete with each other.”

The Archers will look to rebound from their 2-4 start Friday, when they travel to Northeastern Oklahoma A&M for a four-game series. The team’s home opener will be Feb. 28, in a doubleheader against Kirkwood (Iowa) Community College at Heine Meine Field in Lemay.