Delgado, Spartanburg, Iowa Western punch ticket to JUCO

There’s a Mardi Gras-type party going on in New Orleans — the Delgado Community College Dolphins are returning to the JUCO World Series.

And from the sound of it, the Dolphins just might bring that party to the mountains.

“From all my text messages and Twitters and the things my son is making me do, it sounds like there’s going to be a lot of (Delgado fans) in Grand Junction,” Delgado coach Joe Scheuermann said Sunday evening after the Dolphins held off Seminole State College (Oklahoma) 8-7 to win the South Central District in Neosho, Missouri.

“We’ll have jambalaya pots going and do some tailgating. Hopefully we can do something special. You know, in Louisiana, the men cook and the women watch, so you’ll see all the jambalaya pots going.”

Delgado, ranked second in the nation, qualified for the Alpine Bank Junior College World Series for the first time since 2007, the team Scheuermann still calls “the Katrina team,” because it dealt with the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

The Dolphins (43-11) used a three-run fourth inning to take a 5-4 lead in the title game, then added two runs in the sixth on back-to-back two-out singles by Cody Ducote and Chris Eades for a 7-4 lead.

Seminole State rallied for one run in the seventh and another in the eighth, but stranded the tying run on base in both the eighth and ninth innings.

Freshman pitcher Jonathan Ebersole came on in relief and allowed only two runs on seven hits to get the win.

Ducote and Eades combined to go 7 for 9 for the Dolphins.

Two coaches who are extremely familiar with Grand Junction won district titles Sunday, Tim Wallace of Spartanburg Methodist (South Carolina) and Marc Rardin of Iowa Western Community College.

Both took two games to get it done, but No. 6 Spartanburg had to win two to join Wallace, who will be inducted into the NJCAA Baseball Coaches Hall of Fame on Friday night.

The Pioneers defeated USC-Sumter 5-4 on a home run by Jordan Garrett to force the “if” game, and got a stellar pitching performance from C.D. Pelham to beat the Fire Ants 7-2.

On the back wall of Spartanburg’s dugout were two words, written in athletic tape: JUST WIN.

“Those guys (Sumter) were sitting in the winners’ bracket and lose the first game, and it changes your mindset,” Wallace said of Sumter. “We came out and scored five runs, and they changed their approach.

“Our pitcher was incredible, but it was a great team effort. We really struggled the last couple of weeks, but we played the way we’re capable of playing.”

Rardin, whose Reivers won the 2010 and 2012 JUCO titles, is back after a one-year hiatus. At 51-11, Iowa Western is ranked third in the latest NJCAA poll.

“I thought we would be OK this year, but going into today, I didn’t have 50-10 in mind,” Rardin said. “Out of our 11 losses, five were to Indian Hills, and three were to Crowder (Missouri, which hosted the South Central District). Our three other losses are to two teams.”

Even though the Reivers missed last year’s tournament, the tradition of the program carried over, Rardin said.

“You take teams to the World Series year after year, there’s an ‘it’ factor because of experience,” he said.

The final spot in the 10-team JUCO World Series field will be determined today.

The South Central District was rained out Sunday, so No. 7 Columbia State (Tennessee) and No. 16 Darton State (Georgia) play today for the title.

Columbia is undefeated in the double-elimination tournament, so Darton must win twice to qualify for JUCO for the first time in school history.

The first-round lineup for JUCO looks like this:

Iowa Western plays the East Central winner at 9 a.m.; No. 5 Johnson County Community College (Kansas) plays Midland College (Texas) at noon; Blinn College (Texas) faces Cochise College (Arizona) at 3 p.m.; and No. 1 Chattahoochee Valley Community College (Alabama) plays Delgado at 7:30 p.m.

After two elimination games Sunday, Miami Dade College (Florida) plays Spartanburg Methodist at 7:30 p.m.

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