Rose Hill surging heading into home stretch

Charles Chaney
The Rose Hill Sluggers have won five in a row and are an impressive 12-1 at home this season. The Sluggers beat Newton 7-2 to take the series with one game left on Tuesday night in Newton.

Last Monday was not very fun for the Rose Hill Sluggers. An ugly loss to the top of the standings can be a wake up call. It appears to be so for the Sluggers.

Rose Hill (18-5 overall, 15-4 Sunflower league) beat Newton on Sunday night 7-2 to win their fifth straight game. When the Sluggers are home, they’re very good. They are 12-1 when they are considered the home team and 6-4 when the visitor.

Their only loss? A 13-inning thriller against Derby on opening night.

“It’s great playing in front of fans,” Zach Baxley said. “We’re used to playing in front of no one and now we have people rooting for us.”

It’s shown as Baxley and Co. are thrashing opponents. Only one team has hit more home runs and scored more runs. Baxley himself has been a firecracker on a nightly basis. He leads the league in batting average at .485. His 27 RBIs are tied for the league leader and no one has more hits than him.

“No one in this league gives us wins,” Baxley said. “We have to grind out the games and hopefully come out on top.”

A key to Rose Hill’s success is. Their ability to get on the board first. Rose Hill has scored first in 14 of their 23 games and are 14-0 in those games.

“We know how to jump on teams,” Baxley said. “Once we figure out how to close it out, it’s going to be scary.”

With only 12 games remaining on the regular season schedule, end goals are being made and hopefully met. While the errors have been a goal the team wanted to lower, it has done so over the last week.

“We’re still trying to get some things right,” Rose Hill head coach Jake Jones said. “We’re playing well and pitching well.”

Only Cheney can say they are better when it comes to pitching than Rose Hill. The Sluggers have the second-best ERA (3.70), earned runs allowed (69), home runs allowed (8) and are third in team strike outs.

From Brian Skillman to Tanner Leslie, the Sluggers have seven different pitchers with at least two wins.

“Our culture is a large reason why we’re doing so well,” Ethan Peterson said. “We don’t have any toxic players this year. It’s a lot of fun to go out and play with these guys every night.”

The main goal remains the same: get to the NBC World Series.

For now, the World Series is on but a location is unknown. The NBC has secured at least one week at Eck but are trying to figure out the rest. We do know it will not be played at the new Riverfront Stadium.

The players are fully aware of what is awaiting them in just over two weeks.

“I’d love to do it with this team,” Peterson said. “I think we can win it all.”

The Sluggers haven’t played in the World Series since 2016 but play like they are doing right now will put them into the driver’s seat to get back.

“This is the best team we’ve had since I’ve been here,” Baxley said. “We are trying to focus on the next game.”

What makes this team so good compared to previous years?

“I don’t want to give that away,” Baxley said.