Garcia, Rohrbough, Sauer have been big key to success
Appeal Sports Editor
While Justin Garcia and Cole Rohrbough didn’t gloat about it too much, there’s no denying it was one of the sweetest – if not the sweetest – moment of this magical run.
On its way to the National Junior Collegiate Athletic World Series, the Western Nevada Community College baseball team swept Community College of Southern Nevada – at CCSN no less – for the regional title. “It was pretty sweet,” Rohrbough said.
“It was just special to go there in vegas and their home field and beat them down there,” Garcia said. “It’s tough to do.”
The two pitchers along with fellow pitcher Stephen Sauer have been an integral part of the Wildcats’ success over the past two years. No doubt, the Wildcats’ chances to complete this improbable run and win the national title will depend on how well these three pitch.
The formula will stay the same. Rohrbough will pitch the first game in the double elimination tournament when WNCC opens against Delgado Community College of New Orleans at 6:30 p.m. Saturday in Grand Junction, Colo. Garcia will start the second game and Sauer will continue to come out of the bullpen and could possibly even be available to eventually start if needed.
That’s been the winning formula throughout the postseason as Rohrbough and Garcia have pitched effectively and Sauer has closed out four games out of the bullpen over the last two weeks.
While Rohrbough is focused on his start on Saturday, no doubt his options after the season is over are in the back of his mind. The Atlanta Braves picked Rohrbough last year as a draft and follow and still own his rights.
It’s no secret the Braves are expected to do everything they can to sign him. But that means they’ll have to meet the market value and Rohrbough’s stock has risen considerably, so it figures it will take a signing bonus in the mid to high six figures to ink him.
The Major League draft begins June 5 and depending on when WNCC’s season is over, the Braves will have a week before the draft to sign him. If WNCC goes all the way and is still playing on June 2, the Braves would have 48 hours from that point to sign him.
“They’re going to try to sign me I know that,” Rohrbough said. While Rohrbough understandbly isn’t throwing out any figures, he’s not going to settle for peanuts, either. “They’re going to have to come with the right deal,” he said.
If the Braves fail to sign him, Rohrbough will then be available in the draft and there’s been talk he could go as high as the second round. If he doesn’t sign with a Major League team, he’ll head for Arizona State so it’s a win-win-win situation.
“All three options, going with the Braves, draft or Arizona State, I’m not opposed to any of those situations. I would want to do any of those three.”
Right now, Rohrbough is focused on Saturday. “There’s going to be a lot of people there,” Rohrbough said. “Probably more people than I’ve every pitched before. It’s going to be fun.”
Garcia has also become a pitcher who could be possibly drafted as he’s increased the speed on his fastball by four or five miles an hour. He now throws consistently in the high 80s and touches 90. “That helped my stock a lot,” Garcia said.
But Garcia’s strength remains how he commands his pitches. “The command is the biggest thing,” he said. “It’s gotten me where I’m at today.”
If Garcia isn’t drafted, he’ll head to UNLV. Right now, Garcia is also focused on the World Series and he said the team won’t change its approach.
“I can’t wait to get there,” Garcia said. “We’re going to keep playing the way we’ve been playing. We’ve had pretty good success that way.”
Sauer came into the most dramatic situation of the postseason in game one of the best two of three series against CCSN. The bases were loaded with no outs when he entered and he went on to strike out the side to preserve the 6-4 win. “It’s exciting being the last one of the mound,” Sauer said.
But Sauer noted there are others on the staff who could have finished the game. He noted Dan Grubbs would have likely finishedthe game if not for some bad breaks. “It could be anyone who am I that makes me special,” Sauer said.
Sauer has pitched out of the bullpen and as a starter for the two years he’s been at WNCC. “I played that role last year,” said Sauer about switching between the bullpen and the rotation. “It’s nothing new to me. I enjoyed it.”
When he came in against CCSN, Sauer said he wasn’t pitching for the strikeout. But he also said he knew he couldn’t fall behind in the count. “I was thinking strikes, strikes, strikes.”
Sauer said he doesn’t know what to expect when he arrives in Grand Junction. “All I’ve seen is one picture of the field from overhead,” he said. “It just seems like a mystery to me.”
Sauer has also signed with Arizona State and he may be drafted as well, which he said he owes a great deal to WNCC.
“I came here as an undrafted, unsigned fresh, freshman walk-on,” Sauer said. “I came into my own here.”