Cowan matches Collier’s quality start for San Jacinto

San Jac’s Danny Hernandez hits a HR

One would have thought the San Jacinto (Texas) College-North could have hardly gotten a better pitching performance than the one the Gators got Sunday from Tommy
Collier in their first game of the Alpine Bank Junior College World Series.

Jacob Cowan may have matched Collier’s performance Tuesday.

The sophomore right-hander pitched eight innings, striking out 13, in helping the Gators to a 9-4 victory over Santa Fe (Fla.) College.

Cowan did two things very effectively. He got ahead of the hitters. And when he did, he threw pitches the Saints couldn’t hit.

“When you get ahead in the count, 0-2 or 1-2, it gives you that out pitch,” Cowan said.

Actually, Cowan has two out pitches, a change-up and a slider.

“When they’re both working, I can use either one,” he said.

They were and he used both effectively — especially the slider, which Santa Fe spent all night chasing in the dirt.

“He’s got some of the best stuff of any pitcher I’ve ever coached,” San Jac coach Tom Arrington said.

Collier did much the same thing Sunday in the Gators’ 7-1 victory over Spartanburg (S.C.) Methodist College.

“It leaves a little comfort with the strikeout,” said Gators catcher Gregg Alcazar, who caught both games.

“Originally I struggled with it,” Alcazar said of adapting to the pitchers’ two-strike slider, which frequently ends up in the dirt.

“I got more comfortable,” he said, even though he gets his share of bruises from bouncing pitches, a factor he’ll live with.

“I’ve got to do what I can for my boys,” he said of blocking the plate in any manner possible.

It was feast or famine for both teams through the first four innings.

If the starting pitchers weren’t giving up solo home runs (each one surrendered one), they were striking batters out.

Santa Fe starter Daley Cox had six strikeouts through the first three innings (although he struck out none in the next 31/3 innings).

Cowan, was even more impressive, striking out eight through three innings. His ninth, perhaps his biggest, came in the bottom of the fourth, when he struck out Trace
Venagas with one out and a runner on third, allowing him to get out of the inning with a ground out by the next batter.

The Gators hit three singles in the fifth, Ryan Still’s driving in two runs with the bases loaded to put San Jac ahead 3-1.

The Gators opened it up in the top of the seventh with a five-run inning, including home runs by Deric Hawkins and pinch hitter Brad Padia.

Padia, a left-handed hitter who was put in to counter the Saints’ right-handed relievers, had four home runs during the regular season and pushed that total to sixth with another blast to right fiield in the ninth.

“I really swung the bat the way I wanted to,” Padia said.

“I changed my swing (around the time of the regional tournament),” Padia said. “It’s been a process.”

The victory put the Gators into a matchup with the tournament’s other unbeaten team, Howard College, in a Texas showdown tonight at 7:30.


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