Arrington, San Jac come up short in title game once more
Tom Arrington and his players hugged and shed tears Saturday night as they spent a few more minutes on Suplizio Field.
Another tough loss in the biggest game.
For the second straight year, San Jacinto College-North (Texas) came to Grand Junction with a great baseball team and advanced to the title game.
Once again, the Gators and coach Arrington were denied a national championship at the Alpine Bank Junior College World Series.
“I’m just very proud of our team and their character,” Arrington said as his voice cracked.
The 15-6 win by Chipola College (Florida) gave the Indians their second national title, the trophy joining the one they won 10 years ago.
Getting to the title game is never easy, but San Jacinto has made it routine. The Houston school has now been the tournament runner-up 10 times. It was the sixth time Arrington has brought a team to Grand Junction and lost the title game.
The Gators have won five national titles in their history, all prior to Arrington becoming the head coach.
Arrington made a point to congratulate every player on a successful season as they mingled in shallow left field long after the awards presentation.
He said the loss wasn’t as tough as others he’s had, but it was difficult because of a special group of players.
“These are just games,” Arrington said. “It’s for them, to have this experience.”
San Jacinto was the most dominating team in the tournament for its first five games, outscoring opponents 60-28.
Then the Gators ran into a power-hitting Chipola team and a couple of left-handed pitchers who gave San Jac problems.
In Friday night’s game, Evan Steele shut down the Gators on three hits and one run to force Saturday night’s title game.
The Indians got four innings from starter Bowden Francis on Saturday and trailed 5-4 when coach Jeff Johnson went to lefty Ryan Shauger, who threw three innings of no-hit baseball. Junior Harding pitched the final two innings to close the door.
Offensively, the Indians did what they’ve done throughout the tournament. They finished with 12 hits but got key contributions from other players other than the ones who had been carrying them earlier in the tournament. Te’kwaan Whyte and Brody Wofford had home runs in the title game.
Chipola lost to San Jacinto 13-8 in both teams’ second game of the tournament Monday.
San Jacinto right-fielder Ryan Johnson, who was an all-tournament selection and tied a tournament record with five doubles, said it was a memorable tournament.
“It’s been awesome, I’ve never been around a better group of guys,” he said. “It sucks to go out like this. We fought hard, hat’s off to Chipola, they’re a great team. They earned it.”
For Arrington, who as always was gracious in defeat, the loss was extremely difficult.
“I’m just proud of our guys, I’m truly blessed to have coached this team, to know these players,” he said.