Iowa Western headed back to GJ

It took a little longer than Marc Rardin would have liked, but if it came down to playing one more game and getting home past midnight or not qualifying for the JUCO World Series ...

No brainer.

“I’ll take it. Whatever it takes,” the Iowa Western Community College baseball coach said Sunday after the top-ranked Reivers bounced back from an 11-8 loss to John A. Logan (Ill.) earlier in the day to win 9-0 in the Northern District title game.

Andy Roberts threw a complete-game shutout for the Reivers (57-5) in the deciding game to send Iowa Western to Grand Junction for the sixth straight year and seventh in the past eight.

Iowa Western became the first team from the Northern District to win the national championship in 2010.

“A little bit of experience and not panicking,” Rardin said of Sunday’s second game. “It was a long day and we worked hard to get to where they had to beat us twice.

“They had some swinging bunts and a ball hop over our first baseman’s head in the first game. That’s baseball.

“The experience helps, whether it’s in a district championship or the World Series. It doesn’t mean you’ll win, but it helps to right the ship instead of looking like it’s gonna sink.”

After losing the first game, the Reivers went out and played again, trying to deflect the pressure that comes from being a unanimous No. 1 team the past few weeks.

“I think the best thing we did today was keeping our composure and playing the game hard,” Rardin said. “My coaching staff was not panicking, they were doing their jobs and not showing anything different than we have the last 60 games already.”

Being No. 1 in the nation has brought some pressure, but also has brought the teams in the district some notoriety.

“I ran into numerous people at the ballpark the last two days who weren’t Iowa Western fans or South Suburban fans, they just wanted to come see what a No. 1 team looks like,” Rardin said. “We look like everybody else; we just win a few more games, really.”

The South Central District championship game between Jefferson College (Mo.) and Eastern Oklahoma was tied 2-2 in the top of the 10th when it was delayed by lightning Sunday afternoon. The lightning turned to rain and postponed the game until noon (MDT) today. Each team has one loss, so today’s winner claims the district title.

Middle Georgia’s 12-2 win over Gordon College in the East Central championship forced a second championship game, which will be played at 11 a.m. (MDT) today.

The 55th annual JUCO World Series begins at 9 a.m. Saturday at Suplizio Field.

Fans who would like a sneak peek at the Lincoln Park Tower project can take a tour between noon and 2 p.m. on Wednesday. Free hotdogs and soft drinks will be served, and the JUCO Committee will take fans on tours of the mezzanine, press and hospitality levels.


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