Faulkner qualifies for JUCO for 1st time

Faulkner State (Ala.) Community College has come close, but could never win the Southeastern District tournament.

Thursday, though, the Sun Chiefs finally broke through in Ozark, Ala. After reaching the championship game undefeated, Faulkner lost 7-5 to Shelton State, which has won the Alabama Community College Conference tournament the past three years, forcing a second title game.

With Josh Huggins driving in three runs on two hits, Faulkner State (37-19) won 7-6 and celebrated its first trip to the Alpine Bank Junior College World Series.

The 53rd annual JUCO World Series begins May 29 at Suplizio Field.

Faulkner wasted no time in the title game, scoring three runs in the bottom of the first inning. Shelton cut it to 4-3 by picking up a run in the fourth, but Faulkner scored three runs in the bottom of the inning and held on as the Bucs scored twice in the fifth and once in the eighth.

However, Shelton had the bases loaded in the eighth and a force at second base got reliever Joseph Hernandez out of the jam. With two out in the ninth, Hernandez got a routine ground ball to third to end the game and send the Sun Chiefs streaming onto the field.

The Sun Chiefs outlasted Wallace State-Hanceville 12-11 in 11 innings in their tournament opener, then beat Northwest Shoals 12-5 and Central Alabama 5-4 to reach the championship game.

They’ll play the Southwestern District champion (West Texas, New Mexico) at 3 p.m. the opening day of JUCO. Both Texas qualifying tournaments begin Saturday, along with the Central District in Kansas.


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