Temple stays alive in chase for berth in JUCO field

The number 10 was good to the Temple (Texas) College baseball team Wednesday in the Southwestern District tournament in Fort Worth.

The Leopards, coached by former major league pitcher Craig McMurtry, won two games by scoring 10 runs to stay alive and force a second championship game today. Temple beat Odessa College 10-2 to reach the championship game and held off McLennan Community College’s eighth-inning rally to win 10-9.

The teams play at noon (MDT) today for the fifth spot in the Alpine Bank Junior College World Series.

The other five district tournaments begin this weekend, with the Western District starting today in Lamar. Three top-10 teams are in the four-team field, led by No. 2 College of Southern Nevada and projected No. 1 draft pick Bryce Harper.

The Coyotes play Western Nebraska at 3 this afternoon, after No. 6 Central Arizona takes on No 7 Lamar at noon. The championship game of the double-elimination tournament is Saturday at noon.

San Jacinto (Texas) College-North, which won the Southern District title Tuesday, is ranked No. 1 in the nation again this week, with two other JUCO entrants in the top 10. State College of Florida, the Gulf District winner, is No. 3 and Faulkner State, the Southeastern champion, is No. 10.

The other team that has qualified, Hutchinson (Kan.) Community College, is ranked No. 22. The Blue Dragons won the Central District title Tuesday, and their coach, Kyle Crookes, liked the district’s new four-team format.

“It does make it so the weather didn’t play as big a role,” he said.

The tournament was delayed one day by rain in Wichita, but with only four teams, it was easier to get back on schedule than in the old eight-team format.

“Having two sub-regionals, I hope the best teams come out of there,” Crookes said. “It was certainly dramatic on the field. Every team was very good and we had some really hotly contested games.”

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