Crowder, Wabash Valley fill JUCO field
After weather delays backed up NJCAA district tournaments this past weekend, the final two teams of the Alpine Bank Junior College World Series are set.
Crowder College (Missouri) defeated Seminole State College (Oklahoma) 7-2 in the South Central District championship on Monday, and Wabash Valley College (Illinois) topped Indian Hills Community College (Iowa) 1-0 to win the Northern District.
Although it took two games for Wabash Valley and Indian Hills to decide a district champion, third-ranked Crowder won a winner-take-all game to advance to JUCO.
The Roughriders (52-12) lost to Seminole 2-1 on Saturday in walk-off fashion, leaving both teams and Delgado Community College (Louisiana) with 1-1 records for the tournament. A coin-flip determined Seminole would advance to the championship game and Crowder topped Delgado 9-5 on Sunday.
From there, a complete game from freshman Aaron Ashby and an offensive surge in the eighth inning punched the Roughriders’ ticket to Grand Junction. It’s their first JUCO appearance since 2010 — Crowder won one game but lost twice to eventual champion Iowa Western — and the second in program history.
Crowder coach Travis Lallemand said his team battled through extra games and emerged victorious thanks to its pitching.
“It was a big eighth inning that allowed us to put it away a little bit,” Lallemand said. “We got a complete game from our left-hander and that was big after getting beat on a walk-off on Saturday.
“We lost the coin flip and had to play Sunday, so Seminole had a little bit more depth on the mound at that point. Really big to win it and we’re happy to make our second trip. My coaching staff was on the team the last team we were out here, so hopefully we’ll know a little more going into this one.”
In the Northern District tournament, Wabash Valley’s Trey Beckman laid down a squeeze bunt for a walk-off 1-0 win over Indian Hills to advance to Grand Junction.
Indian Hills won 6-3 earlier in the day to force an “if” game for the district title, but stranded several runners during the second game, including a runner on third base in the top of the ninth.
Wabash Valley, ranked No. 17, is making its second appearance at the JUCO World Series, last qualifying in 1989. That year, the Warriors lost their opener to Brevard Community College (now Eastern Florida State College) before working their way back through the losers’ bracket, coming one game short of reaching the championship game.
General admission tickets for the JUCO World Series are on sale at outlets throughout town, including all Alpine Bank branches, Home Loan Insurance, City Market and B&H Sports. Reserved seating is available online at jucogj.org.
Banquet tickets are $50 and on sale at the JUCO office in the Home Loan Building at Fourth Street and Rood Avenue. Former Colorado Rockies outfielder Dante Bichette will speak at Friday night’s banquet at Two Rivers Convention Center.