Columbia State completes JUCO field
After two days of rain, Columbia State Community College (Tennessee) emerged victorious Monday in the East Central District championship game, downing Darton State (Georgia) 5-1 at Georgia Perimeter. The Chargers are the final team to qualify for the 10-team Alpine Bank Junior College World Series.
“We had four teams with 40 wins in this district,” Columbia State coach Mike Corn said. “Us making it through here, you gotta hope it will help us when we’re in Grand Junction.”
The normally offensive-heavy Chargers (45-12) were limited to 10 hits and no extra-base hits, but they benefitted from four errors and two balks by the Cavaliers (44-20).
Columbia State turned a double play in the top of the first inning, something Corn said “really captured momentum for us.”
In the bottom half, an error by Darton State allowed a run to score, sparking a two-run rally. A fielder’s choice and a balk in the bottom of the third inning allowed Columbia to score two more runs.
The squads traded runs in the sixth inning, but the Chargers’ bullpen shut down any offense. Kierce Kimbel, an Austin Peay State University recruit, held Darton State hitless for two-thirds of an inning. Will Snider closed out the game without surrendering a run.
Freshman left-hander Cody Puckett got the win on the mound, throwing 7 1/3 innings and striking out seven and giving up one run.
“We’ve been a team that has relied on our bats most of the year,” Corn said. “But we’ve been playing really good defense in this tournament, and our pitching has been fantastic.”
Tyler Fullerton, who Corn said was “red hot” in the district tournament, was 2 for 5 with two runs. Desi Ammons was 2 for 5 with a run and an RBI.
Columbia State defeated Darton State twice in the East Central District tournament, topping the Cavaliers 5-2 in the opening round. The Chargers beat Georgia Perimeter 5-0 to reach the championship game.
In Town Early
Midland College (Texas) rolled into town Monday, an early arrival compared to most teams traveling to JUCO.
“We just wanted to get out of town,” Midland coach David Coleman said. “The last couple days have been really busy. You have Challenger baseball (Thursday) and the banquet (Friday) and all this stuff going on here. It’s easier to keep these kids focused and regiment their time a little better when they’re in a hotel.
“That, and we’re just really excited to be back in Grand Junction. It’s a great place.”