Kaskaskia lands its first berth in JUCO World Series

Mitch Koester was happy to see his baseball team dog-piling in the infield Sunday.

Like every coach, though, in the back of his mind, Koester was thinking, “Don’t get hurt.”

“We’ve got more things to look forward to now,” the Kaskaskia (Ill.) College baseball coach said Sunday after the Blue Devils became the first team to win the Northern District other than Iowa Western since 2006.

Kaskaskia defeated Wabash Valley (Ill.) College 16-6 in the district title game in Centralia, Ill.

The Blue Devils didn’t have to leave home during the playoffs, hosting the Region 24 and Northern District tournaments.

That certainly played a role in the school’s first berth to the Alpine Bank Junior College World Series.

“Our guys were able to relax and know where they were sleeping at night,” Koester said. “When you’re hosting you’ve got the tarp and all that maintenance stuff you have to do, but we’re used to that with doubleheaders in the regular season.

“Our guys showed up every day ready to play, came out with a focus, and that really helped us get through two long weekends.”

The tournament field was completed Sunday, with third-ranked Spartanburg (S.C.) Methodist College winning the Eastern District in a 17-2 runaway over Potomac State (W.Va.) University. The Pioneers pounded out 22 hits and took advantage of three Potomac errors in the victory.

Wesley Rogers had four hits, and Reid Moman drove in four runs, including hitting an inside-the-park home run.

“We really have played well the last few weeks,” Spartanburg coach Tim Wallace said. “Today, Potomac State was better than the score indicated. We just jumped all over them, and they didn’t have much pitching left. It just kept getting worse.” “We played OK in our region tournament and very well this week. We were down Friday to Pot State after six and came back and won that and jumped all over ASA out of New York. We scored four in the first (in the title game), and it was kind of downhill after that.”

Sixth-ranked Cochise (Ariz.) College erupted for 10 runs in the fourth inning Sunday when play resumed in the Western District championship game in Sterling.

The teams were chased off the field Saturday by lightning, and just after the field was prepped Sunday afternoon, it started raining again.

When the weather finally cleared, three Western Nevada errors helped fuel the Apaches’ eight-hit attack in the fourth inning on the way to a wild 18-11 victory. Cochise had not won a district title since 1989.

JUCO begins at 9 a.m. Saturday at Suplizio Field, with Central Alabama Community College (38-13) playing Palm Beach (Fla.) State College (38-19). At noon, Kaskaskia (39-10) plays Midland (Texas) College (47-13), followed by Spartanburg Methodist (45-13) and Walters State (Tenn.) Community College (37-16) at 3 p.m.

At 7:30 p.m., Navarro (Texas) College (45-15) plays Connors State (Okla.) College (52-9). In Sunday night’s game, Neosho County (Kan.) Community College (35-25) plays Cochise (49-16).

The JUCO field has two teams that have won national titles (Navarro in 2011, Walters State in 2006) and three first-time qualifiers (Palm Beach, Kaskaskia, Midland).


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