Central Alabama Trojans stay unbeaten at JUCO
Central Alabama tops Spartanburg, plays Palm Beach State tonight
Wynn Fletcher was only trying to fire up his team when he took to Twitter on Tuesday night.
The Central Alabama Community College coach tweeted, “I guess we need to just go home. They’ve already crowned Spartanburg.”
The Trojans, ranked eighth in the latest NJCAA preseason poll, feel like they have something to prove, and they did.
Their offense finally broke open the game late as they defeated Spartanburg (S.C.) Methodist College 10-5 on Wednesday night in the Alpine Bank Junior College World Series at Suplizio Field.
“To be honest with you, I probably shouldn’t have done that,” Fletcher said of his tweet. “I do whatever I can to get my guys ready to play. And my thinking behind that: Spartanburg has been here so many times; Tim (Wallace) does a great job; and they’ve played in this atmosphere. We haven’t. We’ve played in here two games before today. And I’ve got to do whatever I’ve got to do to get my kids ready to play. No disrespect towards Tim, Spartanburg Methodist or JUCO.”
Now, Central Alabama (41-13) is the lone remaining undefeated team in the tournament. The Trojans play Palm Beach State (Fla.) College (41-20) at 7:30 tonight in a rematch of from the first round when Central Alabama won 6-4.
Spartanburg Methodist (48-14) plays Cochise (Ariz.) College (51-18) at 3 p.m. today in an elimination game.
Each team had chances to score early and build a big lead but couldn’t do it.
After a 2-1 start in the first inning, the teams were held scoreless until the sixth when Blaine Miller singled home two runs for a 3-2 lead. Ben Hall singled home another run in the inning.
“I’d kind of been struggling at the plate, not putting good wood on the balls, but I decided that at-bat I was going to go to right field, and I put a good swing on a good pitch, and it just so happened we scored two runs when we needed them,” Miller said. “I just feel like with that hit it just opened fire and we kept going and scored a couple more runs that inning and we just built off that and kept on going and did what we needed to do.”
The Trojans added two more runs in the seventh. One on a sacrifice fly and another on a single.
Spartanburg had a chance to score in the fifth with two on and one out, but Central Alabama’s Ethan Hunt came in relief to get a strikeout and a fly out. He went two innings and got the victory in relief of Matthew Norton.
“Matt did a good job,” Fletcher said. “It wasn’t always pretty, but he got to the point where he got us in the dugout, and I’m proud of that because it could have gone the wrong way.”
The Pioneers had another opportunity with two on and one out in the sixth, but Champ Rowland grounded into a double play.
“We had a guy on third with less than two outs, and we couldn’t get him in, and we could have separated a little bit there, or maybe gotten something going,” Spartanburg coach Tim Wallace said. “We make a bad base-running mistake, and then they made a good defensive play.
“In all actuality, we probably shouldn’t have had a shot to even be in it. You know, we had our chances, and we blew them. Good thing is this is a double-elimination tournament. We’ll come back tomorrow and go to work again.”
Spartanburg broke through on the scoreboard in the seventh and got within a run at 6-5. Wesley Rogers led off with a single and scored on Elliott Caldwell’s single. Reid Moman scored on a groundout, then Caldwell scored on a passed ball.
Central Alabama pushed across an insurance run in the top of the eighth on Paul Young’s single to right. The Trojans led 7-5.
Spartanburg had two on in the eighth when Reid Moman hit a chopper back up the middle. Central Alabama shortstop Ryan Raspino knocked it down, but all runners advanced safely to load the bases with two outs. Moman, though, was picked off first base by Miller.
“They were thinking we were paying attention to the lead runners, and the backside runners were kind of getting lazy off the bag, moping back to the bag,” Miller said. “Me and the first baseman had talked about it a couple of innings. We decided that we was going to do it that play. He gave me the call, and I went right down there to him.”
Moman jumped up and slammed his helmet. Wallace came out to question the call, but refused to publicly disagree.
“The umpire said he was out, doesn’t matter what I think,” Wallace said. “The umpire said he was out.”
“I was just trying to keep the ball in front of me with the tying runner on second,” Central Alabama first baseman Alex Lee said. “If the ball goes to the outfield, then the runner scores easily. We have a different ball game if that happens, obviously.”
The Trojans put the game out of reach in the ninth with Ben Hall’s two-run single then added another run on B.J. Martin’s single.