Hawks second basemaan comes through at biggest moment, claims MVP
Andrew Collazo was having a frustrating tournament at the plate, but came through when it mattered most.
The Howard (Texas) College sophomore hit a solo home run in the ninth inning Friday night, then had a two-run single in the 10th to lead the Hawks to the Alpine Bank Junior CollegeWorld Series title at Suplizio Field. Howard (63-1) defeated Santa Fe (Fla.) Community College 7-4.
The JUCO defensive player of the tournament was also selected as the Preston Walker Most Valuable Player.
“This whole tournament I was struggling, but I kept fighting,” Collazo said. “Coach (Britt Smith) kept putting me in there. He said stay in there. You’re hitting the ball and you’ll find a hole. I was struggling this game, but I thought to myself, I was struggling for a reason. I was great to come out of it with two big hits.
“They knew I would produce. They never gave up on me. With their support, I never gave up on myself.”
Collazo finished the tournament with five hits in 19 at-bats (.263) and six RBI. He was 2 for 4 with three RBI in the championship game.
“Andrew is a high-energy player,” Smith said. “He’s been that since the day he got into our program. As a coach, it’s hard sometimes to tell a kid, ‘Whoa!’ You love a kid you’ve got to tell ‘Whoa’ to. It’s the ones you’ve got to yell, ‘Go,’ to your in trouble. He’s had so many clutch hits in his career. He’s hit walk-off home runs; he’s hit come from behind home runs. He’s been that guy. He hits a three-run homer in the bottom of the last inning to complete a 14-run comeback at our place.”
Collazo, who signed with Texas A&M University, came through again in the championship game.
He came up to bat with two outs in a tie game in the top of the ninth inning and slammed a home run for a 4-3 lead.
“It felt awesome,” Collazo said. “I knew off the bat it was gone. I looked at my teammates and it felt so good running the bases knowing I helped my team out at the plate. I knew I was helping them in the field, but I knew I was going to come through for them at the plate.”
Smith knew he would come through, even though; he was struggling at the plate in the tournament.
“Miles Hamblin and I are sitting together right before he hits the home run in the ninth,” Smith said. “We didn’t say anything, because the other day he was in the same situation and we said, this is where Drew always gets a hit and he didn’t. Tonight, we didn’t say anything. Monk and I called it in the (hotel) room, but nobody wanted to say anything. He comes up in the 10th and Miles probably doesn’t want me telling this, but he goes, ‘Man, I’ve got to go to the bathroom.’ I said, ‘go ahead, there’s two outs.’ He said, ‘I know, but you know Drew’s going to get a hit right here. Sure enough, a hit that scores two huge runs.”
Collazo’s single in the 10th gave the Hawks the cushion they needed to halt another Santa Fe comeback attempt.
“My focus was to stay calm,” Collazo said. “It was a big spot, bases loaded, we’re up one.
We need an insurance run. It was stay calm and have fun. That’s what Coach wanted me to do all season. That’s what I’ve been doing and I came up big.
“It was huge, because it puts the momentum down for them. One run is kind of easy for them. They are a good hitting team. Three runs were even bigger. It’s harder for them.”