32-1 TCC takes aim at league title

todd.milles@thenewstribune.comMay 2, 2014 

The loudest sound Tacoma CC has ever made in Northwest Athletic Association of Community Colleges baseball is a knocking on the door.

But it’s 2014. Welcome to racket central.

Bells, whistles, blaring sirens — you name it, the Titans are being heard not only all over the Northwest, they are making news nationally.

At 32-1, they are not only ranked No. 1 in the NWAACC and leading the West Division in search of their first divisional crown since 2003, they have the best record of any college program in the country — at any level.

32-1?

Yeah, 32 wins in 33 games — including a 27-game winning streak.

“I’ve never been part of a team like this — a streak or this kind of record,” said fourth-year TCC coach Ryan Mummert, a Kennedy Catholic graduate. “I’ve been part of some really good teams, but nothing to this effect.”

What makes this historic streak even more head-scratching is that TCC won a school-record 35 games last season and sent nine of its 13 regulars to NCAA Division I programs.

To exceed that, Mummert said he’s had sophomore returners who have made a significant jump in production and freshmen who have made immediate impacts.

It’s easy to pinpoint why the Titans are winning lots of games. Their team earned-run average is 1.41 — almost a run better than the league’s second-best ERA, Clark College’s 2.33.

They have the ERA leader in Justin Vernia, a freshman from Issaquah who might reach only 84-86 mph on his fastball but has great control of three quality pitches. He has given up one run in 462/3 innings, good for a 0.19 ERA.

The staff’s ace is Joey Gamache, a Bonney Lake High School product who has gone 15-1 during the past two seasons, including 7-0 this season. He has a 1.64 ERA.

And they have a reliable closer in Ryota Koiwai, a student from Japan. The submarine-throwing reliever leads the NWAACC with eight saves and has 18 strikeouts in 18-plus innings.

“So far this whole year, (our) pitching has been lights-out,” Mummert said. “Seven of our guys have under a 2.00 ERA, which is just crazy right now.

“Are we that good? I do not know. It shows we have a chance to be that good.”

TCC’s only loss came on March 9 — a 9-1 setback against Walla Walla CC. Since then, the Titans have outscored their opponents 210-45 during their 27-game winning streak.

TCC, which has never won an NWAACC title or even played in the championship game, has already clinched a playoff spot. It plays Lower Columbia College this weekend and has a series next week against defending NWAACC champion Pierce College.

Todd Milles: 253-597-8442 todd.milles@thenewstribune.com

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