IOWA CITY — Bigger, strong and better.
At least that was the goal for Iowa City Regina’s Chase Becker. The University of Minnesota baseball commit devoted offseason time in the weight room to pack on 15 to 20 pounds and fill out his 6-foot-4 frame.
“I definitely went into the offseason wanting to make big gains,” the Regals junior said. “With the coronavirus, it gave me more time to do that. I went into the weight room every day. I got anything done that I could and it helped a lot with hitting and pitching.”
Becker demonstrated some of his power, hitting a three-run home run and giving Regina the lead for good in a 9-4 victory over West Branch in a River Valley Conference baseball game Friday at Regina.
The shot was his second home run of the season and led to an intentional walk his next at-bat.
“We expect big things out of him,” Regina Coach Todd Becker said. “He’s been doing around a good job. He gets pitched around a lot.
“He’s looking for better pitches and taking what they give ya. He has big-time power.”
Becker was a third-team all-state selection by the Iowa Print Sports Writers Association and first-team all-district and all-RVC. He buffed up from 190 to 205, competing in football and basketball as well. Becker added weight, while trying to maintain his quickness.
“I really need to transform my body into a Division-I athlete,” Becker said. “I was focused on speed. I tried to do some ladders and all that speed work, as well. I didn’t want to lose agility.
The Bears and Regals were tied, 1-1, entering the bottom of the third. Alec Wick reached on an infield single and moved to second on a throwing error. A passed ball followed by a wild pitch allowed Wick to score. Two walks later, Becker connected on a drive over the right-center field fence for a 5-1 lead.
“I just sat on his fastball,” said Becker, who entered the game with a .409 batting average and .480 on-base percentage. “He left it right down the middle, so I just took it out. It just felt great.”
Wick, who suffered a severe hip injury during football, singled and scored on a balk in the fourth. He added an RBI sacrifice bunt in the three-run fifth that helped Regina (5-3) pull away.
Kyle Schooley worked more than four innings in the win, allowing just three runs on four hits.
“He worked his way out of some jams,” Todd Becker said. “He’s come a long way from last year.
“It’s been a pleasure to watch him make that progress.”
The game was bizarre for West Branch, which fell to 2-6. It was indicative of its rough start to the season. The Bears allowed more than twice as many runs than hits, including five that stemmed from bases on balls and two more assisted by errors.
“We have a tough schedule,” West Branch Coach Andy Lapel said. “I think the guys are looking for a spark to get them going. We have a really good team, but we can’t seem to put it together.”
Brad Hunger drove in two runs for the Bears, putting them on the board with an RBI double in the third. Hunger was a role player last year and has expanded his contribution already this season.
“He’s coming along,” Lapel said. “He’s patient but we’ve asked him to get more aggressive, especially early in the count. He’s really come up big for us.”
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