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ACC introduces first baseball team under Enslen

News Photo by James Andersen Alpena High School alum Matt Thompson, center, signs his letter of intent. Thompson is one of several local players who signed with the Lumberjacks on Monday.

ALPENA — A month ago, Alpena Community College’s baseball team got its coach.

On Monday, the program got its players.

A new era of baseball officially began at ACC Monday as ACC’s first roster — 30 players in all — was unveiled during a signing day celebration at Park Arena in front of parents, friends, dignitaries, and coaches.

“We were really keyed in on trying to find the right guys who we wanted. The guys we’ve got on board — we’ve got about 30 — they’re going to fit that culture and that mold that we’re looking for and we’re excited to have them on board,” ACC coach Rob Enslen said.

ACC’s baseball roster of 30 players includes: Corey Victor (Troy); Mason Blumke (Inland Lakes); Matt Thompson (Alpena); Jacob Bush (Boyne City); Sam Reynolds (Traverse City West); Nathan Valdivia (Montrose); Justin Abel (Warren G. Harding, Ohio); Tyler Balazovic (Cheboygan); Kaleb Blaskowski (Cheboygan); Carsen VanBuskirk (Clare); Luke Mervyn (Whittemore-Prescott); Gage Kangas (Hale); Dylan Bergeon (Sault Ste. Marie) and Jake Griffis (Bear Lake).

News Photo by James Andersen Members of the Alpena Community College baseball team are pictured Monday after signing their letters of intent. ACC is bringing back baseball for the first time since 1971 and held a signing day ceremony for 30 players that will make up its first roster and had more than 20 players on hand to sign their letters.

The roster also includes: Wyatt Crawford (Mason County Central); Nathan Hresko (Traverse City Christian); Dillon Cook (Rogers City); Alex Cadarette (Alpena); Brandon Maddox (Hale); Luke Tucker (Alpena); Beau Vizina (Inland Lakes); Aaron Guitar (Utica); Eric Rogers (Armada); Spencer Nash (Onaway/St Clair CC); Thomas Taylor (Kearsley); Rece Schlukebir (Hart); Nik Tulgestka (Rogers City); Brayden Moore (Airport); Everett Zann (Alpena) and Caleb Lipponen (Brimley).

It’s another important step forward for a revitalized program that will play competitive baseball for the first time since 1971 when the season begins next spring.

Enslen was hired last month with the task of putting together a baseball team from scratch. Since he was announced as ACC’s coach on June 14, he’s hired a coaching staff and worked diligently with his staff over the last several weeks to put together a team.

What they’ve compiled was a talented roster that includes players from Northeast Michigan schools like Alpena, Rogers City, and Cheboygan, downstate schools, and even some out-of-state players.

“Obviously being a new program it’s different. We have to start from square one. We didn’t even have a bucket of baseballs to start this whole thing,” Enslen said. “What’s cool is we get to watch this thing grow and watch as players blossom.”

In the last month, Enslen said he talked to coaches, had players send him video, and even had players make the trip to Alpena to throw a bullpen session or go through a hitting session for Alpena’s coaches.

“The coaching staff and myself, we want to win and I know these players do as well,” Enslen said. “I think we’re going to be very competitive on the field and hopefully surprise some people this spring, make a run and win some ball games.”

Enslen and his staff know Monday’s signing day marked the start of something special in Alpena, but they’re hopeful in future years that local ball players will give ACC a look.

In recent years, local baseball players have gone on to play at Delta, Bay College, and Mid Michigan College among other schools.

Starting in the fall, ACC will join an eight-team North division in the Michigan Community College Athletic Association that includes Kirtland, Delta, North Central Michigan College, Mid Michigan College, Muskegon, Grand Rapids, and Bay College.

Alpena will play those teams in volleyball, basketball, baseball and softball. All but Kirtland and North Central have baseball and softball teams.

Though the season is a long way off, players are excited to get started and hope to make other teams take notice right away.

“I thought it’d be really fun to stay in my hometown and play some ball. I’m just going to keep it simple. We’re to play a game, so I’m going to come out and just play baseball and not change anything,” Thompson said. “I’d say year one is just to get your name out there. Let everyone know that we can just play ball as a first-year team. I’m excited.”

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