Lantigua leads five Canucks honoured in Kansas conference

 John-Anthony Lantigua (Quebec City, Que.), left, and Christopher Acosta-Tapia (Deauville Laval, Que.) earned conference honours for  Oklahoma Wesleyan College. Photo: Pierre Rhéaume.

John-Anthony Lantigua (Quebec City, Que.), left, and Christopher Acosta-Tapia (Deauville Laval, Que.) earned conference honours for  Oklahoma Wesleyan College. Photo: Pierre Rhéaume.

Canadians among the best in the KCAC

By Matt Betts
Canadian Baseball Network

When the Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference rolled out their all-conference teams they featured several Canadians.

When analyzing the names on the list there seems to be no better place to start than with the champs. The Oklahoma Wesleyan University Eagles finished on top of the perch, claiming their second straight KCAC title. John Lantigua (Quebec City, Que.) was a force all year for the Eagles on the way to being named First Team All-KCAC. Lantigua, who was also a Preseason All-KCAC selection, is hitting .382 with 13 home runs, 55 RBIs, a .478 on-base percentage and a .725 slugging percentage as OKWU is currently competing in the NAIA Opening Round. His 55 RBIs are good enough for 1.04 per game. He struck out 35 times and walked 29 times as OKWU finished 25-5 in conference play.

Lantigua isn’t the only Canadian Eagle flying high as senior outfielder Christopher Acosta-Tapia (Deauville Laval, Que.) was an All-KCAC honourable mention. The reigning NAIA Player of the Year had another strong season hitting .313 over 53 games played. He has hit 10 home runs and driven in 36. The former Canadian Baseball Network College Player of the Year has legged out a pair of triples and has swiped 13 bases. The Eagles placed 14 players on the all-conference teams.

Jaxson Hooge (Calgary, Alta.) was the second Canadian named First Team All-KCAC. Hooge, like Lantigua, hit for a high average and finished at a .382 clip. He contributed 73 hits in 52 games played, hitting nine home runs and driving in 57. The senior still sits second in the KCAC in the RBIs per game category at 1.10. Hooge reached base consistently posting a .467 on-base percentage. He led the Bluejays to a 34-17 regular season, with a 23-7 record in KCAC play. Hooge spent his 2017 summer playing for the Medicine Hat Mavericks of the Western Major Baseball League where he hit a combined .263 in 42 games between the regular season and the playoffs.

Bluejay Nathan Arruda (Toronto, Ont.) was an All-KCAC honourable mention after posting an 8-3 record on the mound for Tabor. Arruda tossed 77 2/3 innings, allowing 69 hits with a 4.40 ERA. He struck out 76 and held opponents to a .228 average, good for fourth in the conference. The righty played at Odessa Community College before transferring to Tabor.

The McPherson College Bulldogs may have had a 8-22 record in conference play but it wasn’t because of a lack of production from Evan Willow (Victoria, BC). Willow, a Victoria Mariner product, hit .337 with seven home runs and 39 RBIs and was rewarded with a Second Team All-KCAC selection. He stroked 56 hits and had a .407 on-base percentage in 48 games, 47 starts. Four of his home runs came in conference play where he slugged .505.

Continue to watch for updates in the weekly BMOC as Oklahoma Wesleyan and many other Canadians continue their college baseball seasons.

Matt Betts

Matt Betts was born in Brantford, Ontario in 1992. From a very young age, he loved all things baseball ... but even more, all things Canadian. His baseball career began with the Brantford Junior Red Sox, followed by three years (2008 thru 2010) with the Ontario Terriers program of the PBLO - twice winning the Most Proficient Pitcher award. The past four years he pitched at the University of West Alabama of the Gulf South Conference – twice earning Most Dedicated Player honours. Summer baseball experience includes pitching for the Hamilton Cardinals, and the Licking County Settlers (2013 Great Lakes League champs) and again this summer the Hamilton Cardinals. As an Integrated Marketing Major at UWA, he wrote extensively for the university newspaper, with a focus on baseball. His lifelong dedication and love for the game is indisputable, but his passion for sports writing and broadcasting/analysis has grown with each passing year. There is something very satisfying about “digging a little deeper” to reveal the “story within the story.” After four years of life in the United States, he is thrilled to be back home in Canada, ready to cover and promote Canadian sports and players.