San Jacinto hands WNCC first loss at JUCO World Series
GRAND JUNCTION, Colo, – The question is, how did this team lose 14 games?
San Jacinto College of Texas clearly looks like the class of this JUCO World Series with its second straight impressive win, this time beating Western Nevada Community College 12-5 on Tuesday at Sulplizio Field.
If San Jacinto keeps playing the way it has in its first two games, it will be the clear favorite to win the title. If that happens it might as well take a trip to Omaha and take on the big boys at the NCAA Division I College World Series.
That’s a sentiment echoed by WNCC coach D.J. Whittemore, who said the NCAA Division I committee should be asked why San Jac wasn’t invited to one of its regionals.
Meanwhile for WNCC (41-23-2, 2-1 in the tournament), its brutal bracket continues at 2 p.m. today when it must face New Mexico, the nation’s No. 1 team, in an elimination game. The Wildcats beat the Thunderbirds 8-4 on Monday.
The good news for WNCC is if it can win today and Thursday, it would have Friday off and advance to Saturday’s championship round.
Whittemore said everyone will be available to pitch today, including Stephen Sauer, who allowed six runs in four innings against San Jac. Whittemore said he thought that Garcia would even be available on two days rest after pitching on Monday.
The candidates to start are Andrew Reid, Josh Brink and Cole Rohrbough on three days rest, although Whittemore said it’s doubtful Rohrbough would start. Rohrbough threw 111 pitches in a 2-0 win over Delgado Community College of New Orleans on Saturday.
“I don’t think we would do that to Cole,” Whittemore said. “We’ll talk to him and see what he wants to do.” In a perfect scenario, WNCC wouldn’t have to use Rohrbough until Thursday.
It’s hard to understand how San Jac is just 46-14. It’s also hard to understand that the Gators finished fifth in their conference in hitting after 12 of their 15 hits against WNCC went for extra base hits. San Jac also belted four home runs against the Wildcats.
“I’ve got to believe they’re batting in the AL East,” said Whittemore, commenting on the fact the Gators finished fifth in their conference in hitting.
It didn’t look like Sauer was throwing that bad of pitches. “I think Mieras said his ball was sinking,” said Whittemore, commenting on catcher Taylor Mieras.
“I imagine they were hitting some good pitches. They still took advantage of some mistakes and they had to hit some good pitches along the way as well.”
But Whittemore also continued to stress what WNCC’s pitchers will need to do. “Keep the ball down. Change speeds. Location,” he said.
Tanner Hines led off the game with a single, but Sauer picked him off at first. That minimized the damage because Brandon Belt hit a home run to give San Jac a 1-0 lead.
WNCC took a 2-1 lead in the second. Mieras homered and then Chuck Howard singled. Chad Walling followed with an RBI double that made it 2-1. Walling got the start when Whittemore went with a mostly right-handed lineup against left-handed Lucas Luetge.
San Jac took a 3-2 lead in the third on Eric Fry’s two-run double. WNCC tied it in the bottom of the third when Kyle Bondurant singled and scored on Reid’s double.
But San Jac went up 6-3 in the fourth, with Kris Miller’s two-run homer capping the rally. San Jac was able to extend its lead to 10-3 off of T.J. Wohlever and Jake Bottari.
For good measure, Trey Sperring and Kyle Henson hit back-to-back homers in the ninth to make it 12-3.
WNCC finally chased Luetge in the ninth after he threw 140 pitches. Mieras drew the only walk of the game against Luetge and then Howard doubled to give WNCC runners at second and third with no outs. Michael Johnson came on and Andrew Ferguson caught a bad break when his shot that was heading up the middle for a two-run single, bounced off Johnson’s leg.
Mieras scored, but Johnson was able to throw out Ferguson. Cliff Shepard’s RBI single provided for the final margin.
Reid had three hits, Shepard had two hits, including a double and Howard had two hits.