Double the fun: Gators hit 7 doubles to stay unbeaten
Tom Arrington’s third choice turned out to be a charm for San Jacinto College-North (Texas) on Wednesday night.
Jerry Maddox — the Gators’ second reliever of the first inning — threw 6 1/3 strong innings, and Ryan Johnson hit three of his team’s seven doubles as San Jacinto remained unbeaten in the Alpine Bank Junior College World Series with a 12-5 victory over Wabash Valley (Illinois) at Suplizio Field.
“You get a feel for things. You know your staff,” said Arrington, who guessed he’d never made two pitching changes in the first inning prior to Wednesday. “For Jerry, that’s been his role. Spot start for us. He knew his role and did a fantastic job.”
Arrington used three pitchers in the first inning in an attempt to keep the Warriors from taking a big lead early. After starter Hunter McClellan and reliever Taylor Rich had trouble finding the strike zone — each got only one out — Maddox came in to get the final out and strand two Wabash Valley base runners.
Maddox was effective through the end of the sixth inning, finishing with one walk and six strikeouts. From the third to the sixth inning, he retired 12 in a row.
“It’s all just mental, about keeping your composure on the mound and trying to do it every time,” Maddox said. “Sometimes it doesn’t work out the way you planned, but tonight it obviously did.”
San Jac, which plays Cowley College at 7:30 tonight, had 11 hits and seven doubles in the only game of the tournament without a home run. Wabash Valley plays in an elimination game at 3 p.m. today against top-ranked Chipola.
The Gators nearly had a home run in the fourth inning when Johnson’s drive to right-center field appeared to hit off the bottom of the miles-per-hour sign next to Suplizio Field’s scoreboard, replays showed. Umpires, however, convened after awarding the home run and reversed the decision, sending Johnson back to second base and Brett Wright back to third.
“I didn’t see where the ball hit,” Johnson said. “I just heard it hit something, so I didn’t know what to think. They said home run first, so I ran home. Then they said double, so I went back to second.”
Wabash Valley’s Aaron McGeorge lasted three-plus innings and took the loss, allowing six runs, three walks and five hits with two strikeouts. Korren Thompson relieved and limited the Gators to one run over the next three innings before San Jac broke the game open with a three-run seventh inning for a 10-4 lead headed into the eighth.
“When you walk eight guys and make three errors, it’s tough to beat a really good team,” Wabash Valley coach Rob Fournier said. “That’s where it starts, and if it doesn’t happen, you have to have an extra-special effort at the plate, and we didn’t get a big hit when we needed to.”
The Warriors’ biggest threat came in the top of the seventh inning when Romero Harris’ two-out, two-run single up the middle pulled them within 7-4. Maddox, however, got David Rodriguez out on a high bouncing ball to first baseman Mario Moralez to end the threat.
Wabash Valley took a 2-1 lead in the second inning when Luis Sanchez drew a leadoff walk and Collin Luty followed two batters later with an opposite-field double that hit the chalk on the left-field foul line.
The Gators took the lead for good on the bottom half of the inning when back-to-back doubles from Wright and Johnson sparked a three-run frame and gave San Jac a 4-2 advantage.