The Redding Colt 45s 2019 summer collegiate baseball campaign was one of memorable streaks, strong starting pitching efforts and historic gatherings at Tiger Field. The Colt 45s finished the campaign with a 23-23 record.
Fans were greeted by dramatic improvements to the ballpark and surrounding park area, one year after the Carr Fire caused cancellation of their final games. Much of the improvements were made possible by donations from area businesses and individuals. The 2019 season included nights commemorating first responders and emergency officials who battled that fire and other devastating events of 2018, and the 4th of July Celebration was one of the largest crowds in recent memory at Tiger Field.
Outstanding season-long efforts were turned in by many players, including outfielder Tyler Thompson, a sophomore-to-be at the University of Utah. The left-handed hitting centerfielder had to cut his season a week short due to a lingering wrist injury, but in 32 games set the table for the club from his leadoff spot with a .315 average, .493 OBP, 35 runs, 7 doubles, 1 3B, 4 HRs, 29 RBI and 17 steals in 17 attempts.
“Tyler has great character,” said Berek Fasking, manager of the Colt 45s. “He really turned into that guy we really counted on to be a leader in the clubhouse and on the field as well.”
Relief pitcher Jordan Akins was the most consistent hurler throughout the summer, appearing in a team-leading 19 games, 18 in relief, and posting a 2-1 mark with a 3.42 ERA, tops among regulars. The Shasta College right-hander struck out 54 batters in 44.2 innings of work.
Infielder Julian Kodama joined the team several games into the season and went on a team-leading 17-game hitting streak. The sophomore at Seattle University hit safely in 25 of 27 games for the Colt 45s, leading the team with a .351 average. He finished hitting .351 with 24 runs, 5 doubles, one 3B, 22 RBI and 10 steals.
On a team hit with a rash of injuries that hampered or brought the summer to an early end for several key players, starting pitching proved their strength down the stretch. Yreka’s Eamon Velarde (2-3, 4.76) was the team’s best pitcher in the first half of the season (2-1 with a 1.42 ERA in his first three starts) and had a solid season at the plate (.314, 13 RBI in 70 at bats).
Jacob Marquez was their hottest starter down the stretch. The right-hander from Santa Rosa led the Colt 45s in starts (9), innings (54.0), strikeouts (62), wins and losses (5-5), and had the starting staff’s best walks-to-innings-pitched ratio (3.0 per 9 IP).
“Jacob took a no-hitter into the seventh inning, that was an exemplary outing,” Fasking said. “I look forward to seeing what he can do this year (at Santa Rosa College).”
Multi-faceted Brendan Roop was the team’s steadiest threat in the middle of the lineup, hitting .298 and leading the team in games played (40), at bats (161), runs (38), hits (48), doubles (8), triples (3, tied with Tanner Tweedt), RBI (39), sac flies (4, tied with Kodama). His .406 OBP and .847 OPS were second on the team, and he added 3 homers and 12 stolen bases.
Brothers Nick and Kyle Schroedle were with the team from beginning to end, and they both provided consistent efforts for their hometown fans (U Prep HS). As a starter and reliever, Nick (1-4-1) was among team leaders in several categories including innings (52.1), and strikeouts (52). Younger brother Kyle played a variety of positions including pitching, primarily at catcher but also including stints in the outfield and infield. Kyle delivered several clutch at bats, including the Colt 45s only walk-off hit of the season as they beat Santa Rosa 10-9 on July 5.
Tanner Tweedt (RB HS and Sac City College) worked to get in serious innings following a hand injury his freshman season, eventually returning to get key time behind the plate while also playing in a variety of positions in the field – including one game where he and his younger twin brothers Blake and Bryce made up an all-Tweedt outfield. The elder Tweedt finished hitting .298 and tied for the team lead in homers with Chris Brue (5). He had 23 RBI, 7 doubles and three triples in only 33 games, posting a hefty .545 slugging percentage.
Brue, who paced Simpson University in home runs last season, had a monstrous start but was hampered down the stretch by a nagging leg injury. Through June 23 he was hitting .282 with team highs in homers, RBI and slugging percentage. He finished tied for the club mark in homers with 5, and was second on the team in RBI with 37.
Outfielder Andy Beyene was among the most reliable players from beginning to end, starting the season with hits in 10 of his first 11 games and capping the campaign with a team-leading 21 steals in 44 games, hitting .282 with 6 doubles, one homer, 25 RBI and 27 walks, tied with Thompson for most on the club. He also posted a .438 OBP.
Frequent catalyst Payton Edwards, who will attend Cal State Monterey Bay in the fall, worked to come back from a knee sprain, cracking 6 doubles, one triple, 3 homers and 20 RBI in only 88 at bats.
Catcher Nick Horsley, who is transferring locally to Shasta College, carried the bulk of the load behind the plate, but also pitched-in (literally) with 4 relief appearances as well as time at first base and third base.
Second baseman Connor McCoy, just out of American Christian Academy and on his way to Shasta College, was a sparkplug on the bases and provided skill up the middle. In 25 games he scored 23 runs with a double, triple and 10 RBI.
Another freshman-to-be, Seattle University’s Peter Chronowski finished with a 3.53 ERA, tops among starters. The big lefty finished with a 3-4 mark in 11 games (6 as a starter), including the win in his team’s only shutout, as he and Akins combined to blank Fairfield, 6-0.
Lefty Zac Billingsley (Shasta College) was a solid contributor both out of the bullpen and as a starter late in the campaign, posting a 4.05 ERA and 2-1 mark. Reliever Jeff Kross (CS San Bernadino) was a vital member in the second half out of the bullpen, finishing with a 5.87 ERA in 11 games.
Righty Colby Milligan (Shasta College/UT Permean Basin), put in significant work as a starter and reliever, posting a 2-2 mark in 28.2 innings and a 6.27 ERA.
Jakob Machuca, who battled a hand injury, played solidly in his transition from catcher to the outfield, knocking a homer and 12 RBI in 66 at bats. Catcher/infielder Daniel Duarte spent two stints with the club, providing critical late season at bats and finishing with a .341 mark, 2 doubles, 2 homers and 9 RBI in just 12 games.
Machuca’s college teammate (along with Beyene) at Regis University, Miguel Marquez, provided speed and energy at the start of the season, scoring 13 runs in 42 at bats and 7 stolen bases in the season’s first dozen games, but was among those (along with Machuca) who had to leave the team early due to injury.
“It (was) a great year overall and we’ve learned much as a coaching staff, as players and the organization as well,” Fasking said. “We rolled with the punches, so to speak, throughout the summer and now we know what we want to do for next year and how we want to get better.”
There were several other players with significant contributions in limited playing time. The season’s final team statistics (best viewed in web browser) can be found here.