Hammer time keeps Navarro afloat vs. Palm Beach

Navarro (Texas) College pitcher J.D. Hammer delivered 6 1/3 innings of quality relief work against Palm Beach State (Fla.) College on Monday.

Navarro (Texas) College was in trouble after just one inning.

Palm Beach State (Fla.) College was already up 4-0, and Navarro needed some quality relief pitching.

It was Hammer time!

J.D. Hammer was summoned from the bullpen, and the freshman reliever provided that relief.

When coach Whoa Dill handed Hammer the ball, there wasn’t much to be said.

“He just told me to do my best,” Hammer said.

His best was pretty good. He needed to eat up innings and keep the Bulldogs in the game. That’s what he did. He was a workhorse, throwing 99 pitches over 6 1/3 innings, striking out four and giving up four runs.

Hammer’s work on the mound, which included five scoreless innings, allowed the Bulldogs to claw back into the game and take the lead at 9-6 through seven innings. But Palm Beach eventually used a huge 10th inning to win the game 15-9 and eliminated Navarro from the 2013 JUCO World Series.

“I’m really proud of my guys,” Hammer said. “It didn’t work out like we hoped, but it was still a great experience.”

Hammer is one of only three players from Colorado on teams at this year’s Junior College World Series. The others are a couple of Brighton players — Neosho County (Kan.) freshman outfielder Colby Smith and Zach Nance, a sophomore outfielder playing for Cochise (Ariz.) College.

Hammer played shortstop at Fort Collins High School with a few brief pitching appearances. He picked up one save but never threw more than two innings. At Navarro, the 6-foot-2 freshman has found a home in the bullpen. He also pitched 2 2/3 scoreless innings in Navarro’s 10-9 first-round loss to Connors State (Okla.) College.

Hammer said it was “awesome” to be back in Colorado, playing in the JUCO tourney.

“It’s something you dream about. Playing in this kind of atmosphere is something I will never forget,” he said.


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