Nik Davis and Ross Heine, both long-time players (and Heine a former manager) for the Yankton Tappers, recently shared the same belief.
This year’s pitching staff may be the deepest in recent memory.
“We have a legit five guys who can dominate,” Davis, the second-year manager, said Monday.
The numbers so far this season would back that up.
Yankton is a perfect 6-0 in the South Central League and 7-0 overall this season, and has out-scored opponents 59-11 thanks to a pitching staff with an ERA of 1.62.
In other words, the Tappers are cruising.
“It’s going to be something we’ll need come state tournament time, when the talent gets amped up,” Davis said.
That’s why the hot start to the season is especially critical for the Tappers, because they’ll need that kind of depth when they reach the Class A postseason next month — the rest of the SCL is Class B.
Right now, though, things are looking good.
* Luke Bauske (3-0, 1.35 ERA, 19 K in 20 IP)
* Mitch Gullikson (1-0, 1.64 ERA, 27 K in 11 innings)
* Beau Lofink (1-0, 0.75 ERA, 17 K in 12 innings)
* Jordan Murray (1-0, 5 IP), Josh Teichroew (1-0, 6 IP), Jordan Kathol (4 IP) and Derrik Nelson (1 IP) have also pitched
“We have guys who can throw hard and hit spots, and their secondary stuff is good too,” Davis said. “If you hit your spots in this league, you can get a lot of outs.”
Not only have the Tappers pitchers hit their spots, they’ve tended to miss bats. The squad has struck out 66 batters in 50 innings — Gullikson had a 21-strikeout performance against Irene on May 19.
By virtue of how much he’s pitched, Bauske would probably be classified as Yankton’s ‘ace,’ but it was only a year ago that he surprised Davis.
“I didn’t know anything about him until last year when he got a hold of me and asked to play,” Davis said. “Ross and I looked at each other halfway through his first start and said, ‘Wow, this guy’s good.’”
In Gullikson’s case, the Yankton native is fully healed from a shoulder injury, according to Davis.
“He’s really come around,” the manager said. “He’s probably the main strikeout pitcher we have. When he’s dialed in, he’s really fun to watch.”
Lofink, an assistant coach at Mount Marty College, was recommended to the Tappers by Teichroew (another Mount Marty assistant), according to Davis.
“He told me, ‘This guy can really throw,’” Davis said. “When Mount Marty would have live on live drills, he’d throw against the main guys and wow everybody.”
When you have a pitching staff that doesn’t allow two runs a game, your offense doesn’t need to be explosive. But in Yankton’s case, its offense is batting .364, led by regulars like Nelson (.550), Mitch Gullikson (.483), Devin Gullikson (.429), Gabe Leon (.400) and Alex Mueller (.316).
The Tappers will visit Tabor on Sunday for a 7:30 p.m. showdown.
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W L Pct. GB
Yankton 6 0 1.000 —
Crofton 6 1 .857 ½
Wynot 4 2 .667 2
Tabor 3 3 .500 3
Lesterville 2 2 .500 3
Menno 2 2 .500 3
Irene 1 3 .250 4
Scotland 1 6 .143 5 ½
Freeman 0 5 .000 5 ½