Gordon proud of first trip to Grand Junction
Shortly after the final out on Friday, the bat boy for Gordon (Ga.) College stepped into the on-deck area at Suplizio Field. He looked around, tilted the bat behind his shoulder, and took a crisp cut.
The players, coaches — even a bat boy from Gordon — did not leave the Alpine Bank JUCO World Series without taking their hacks.
Not in their first appearance.
Gordon (39-24, 3-2 JUCO) was one of the final three teams alive.
And the Highlanders played their best in their final inning. Trailing San Jacinto (Texas) College-North, 7-0, in the top of the ninth, Devin Bonin hit a two-out, RBI single.
It was their only run.
The Highlanders, who earlier in the week defeated San Jac 9-7, lost on Friday 7-1.
They hit early, leaving five runners on base in the second and third innings.
They ended slowly.
But when considering what experiences they will take away from JUCO, they rarely mentioned baseball. They did not talk about being one win shy of the championship game. They spoke of fans and celebrity treatment and a crazy atmosphere.
And they will be remembered. Kids’ T-shirts and bats long will carry their inked, scribbled names.
Gordon catcher Brian Jacobs said during the seven days Gordon played in the series, he became quicker at penning his autograph.
“A lot faster,” he said.
More than 200 autograph signings can do that.
“The way I look at it,” Jacobs said, “I’m just a kid from Barnesville, Georgia, living out a dream.”
The Highlanders began the season 7-9, and ended in the nation’s top three.
“We weren’t expected to make the regional tournament,” Jacobs said, “let alone win it all.”
And where are they from?
Back home, BuggyTown may have to sit in the back seat to the Gordon baseball team. BuggyTown, said some players, is the country festival that takes place on one weekend each year in Barnesville. Locals ride golf carts, drink alcohol, dance and listen to blues music. Jacobs wasn’t there this season.
“We actually had a baseball game,” he said.
“Barnesville is called the buggy town of the world,” explained pitcher Zach Smith, a relief ace who started Friday. “It’s just a small, hick, country town … but people don’t really ride buggies.”
Gordon coach Travis McClanahan, just after the run through the JUCO World Series ended, paused to summarize what he had experienced.
“It’s hard to put into words,” he said.
Then silence. He scanned the baseball field, where Gordon players were entertaining fans.
Maybe 15 seconds later, McClanahan’s thoughts rolled from his lips.
“It’s not disappointment in our players,” he said. “I’m disappointed it’s over. I loved everything about it. The people we met, the hotel staffs, the people at the restaurants. They were real good to us.”