After taking runners-up honors at the Barret-Fletcher World Series last year, the Johnny Mac Red Thunder (28-8, 13-4 SLABA South) is ready to go back.
“The goal is to make it to the championship game,” Red Thunder head coach Nick Beckmann told the Call. “They play the championship game at Tropicana Field, which is where the (Tampa Bay) Devil Rays play.”
Beckmann’s take on last year’s experience was straightforward and simple.
“We played there (Tropicana Field) last year and it was awesome,” Beckmann said.
The opening rounds of the Barret-Fletcher World Series are played at the Na-moli Complex, which is the spring training complex for the Devil Rays.
Beckmann believes that starting pitcher Matt Ikemeier will be one of the keys to the Red Thunder’s success this coming week at the Barret-Fletcher World Series.
“He (Ikemeier) is my stud,” Beckmann said. “We need him in Florida in order for us to come through.”
Ikemeier is 7-3 overall this season with a 1.70 earned run average. He also has a team-leading 53 strikeouts and has kept his opponents to a weak .198 batting average.
Two other Red Thunder who that have come on strong here in the last couple of weeks are third baseman Jason Brown and shortstop Steve Braun. Brown is batting .308 with 28 runs batted in.
“Sometimes Jason tries to hit the ball too hard, and we talked about it,” Beckmann said. “It looks like he’s really out there trying to make contact with the ball.”
Braun is recovering from an injured finger and is expected to be at 100 percent this week. He is has a .466 batting average with two home runs and 25 runs batted in.
The Barret-Fletcher World Series is slated to begin this Monday.