The Manila U Aztecs have broken through to rise to the top of the weekly power rankings for the Pacific Rim College League at the end of 7 weeks, taking the top spot with a 27-16 record, with just 11 games left. The Aztecs are 1 game ahead of division rivals Singapore Baseball Academy, who had been the division leaders earlier in the season.
The Aztecs’ surge this week was powered in part by a lopsided 17-2 win over Queenstown U Falcons on Wednesday, a game that saw them blast three multiple-run homers, along with four doubles.
They ended their two-game set with the Falcons with a 6-2 win to take the series, then split with Melbourne U Admirals on Friday-Saturday, and yesterday opened their two-game set with Hanoi College Beacons with a 5-0 4-hit win. The Aztecs started their week off with a 4-1 win over Wellington College Bulls that capped a series win last Monday.
Manila has now gone 8-2 in their last ten games, and have particularly good at home, going 17-5 this year. Big-hitting first baseman Rhys Kyle has been a huge factor, with 10 home runs (1 behind conference leader Hyo-chin Oh of Singapore). Kyle also leads the team with 28 runs, and 18 extra-base hits.
Lefty pitcher Jim Mahler is another reason for this week’s success. Mahler pitched the 17-2 win over the Falcons, allowing just one earned run (the other unearned) and allowing only a pair of walks and 4 hits. He was then the starter for yesterday’s shutout win over Hanoi, and as a result his season ERA is now down to just 2.02. The former minor league free agent is really developing quickly after his return to college, and so far this year he is 6-1 with 57 K’s in 56.0 IP.
Sapporo College Avengers, 26-17, remain the top team in the Japan Division, and recently split their series with rivals Osaka U in a narrow 1-0 game 2 win. They are also 8-2 in their last ten games, and are so far keeping a good gap between themselves and 2nd place Kobe Tech, who are 3.5 games behind.
Brisbane and Busan Tech are the other division leaders crowding the top of the power rankings.
WEEK 7’S BEST PLAYERS ANNOUNCED
Osaka U’s Masahiro Ohno, a 19-year-old freshman third baseman, was named player of the week for the Japan-Korea Conference, after a stellar week 7 performance. Ohno hit at a pace of 14-for-27, for a .519 average on the week, pushing his season average up to .324. He had a huge day out on March 1st, going 4-for-4 against Busan Tech, tripling and scoring once, along with batting in a run. He added a walk to complete a 1.000 on-base percentage for the day.
Meanwhile, the Australasian-Oceanic Conference named another freshman third baseman, Saketsune Matsuyama of Manila U, as their player of the week. He batted .444 for the week, adding 3 homers to his season total, making 5, along with 13 RBIs and 5 runs scored. Mastu is now batting .310 on the season.