Howard loses first game, still has a chance to advance to JUCO

Undefeated no more.

Howard (Texas) College lost its first game of the season, falling to 57-1 on Wednesday when the top-ranked Hawks lost to Temple College 8-2 in the Southwest District tournament. Because Howard was undefeated in the tournament, the Hawks have a second chance to earn a berth to the Alpine Bank Junior College World Series.

Howard and Temple play for the third time in three days at 11 this morning in the championship game in Fort Worth, Texas. Howard won the first meeting 11-3.

Howard, which won the 1991 JUCO World Series, was hoping to do what no college baseball team has done — go undefeated and win a national championship.

Howard’s 57-game winning streak is an NJCAA record for consecutive wins and consecutive wins in a single season, breaking Seminole (Okla.) State College’s mark of 55. It also is the most consecutive wins for any collegiate baseball team.

Wingate (N.C.) College went 18-0 in 1956, two years before the NJCAA had a national
championship.

Two teams were able to get through district tournaments Wednesday and clinch berths in JUCO, which begins May 23 at Suplizio Field.

Cowley (Kan.) College had an uphill battle to win the Central District title.

The Tigers lost on the second day of the double-elimination district tournament in Wichita, 6-2 to Seward County. Undeterred, Cowley worked its way through the losers’ bracket, defeating Seward 15-12 on Tuesday night, then beating the Saints 6-3 on Wednesday night to win the Central District.

The Tigers are familiar with Grand Junction, having won back-to-back titles in 1997 and 1998. They have been back three times since, most recently in 2007.

The Tigers will play the winner of the South Central District, which will begin to determine its entrant Friday, with Seminole State, Meridian (Miss.) Community College and MCC-Maple Woods (Mo.) playing at Maple Woods.

Santa Fe (Fla.) Community College knocked off two-time defending Gulf District representative Chipola 5-3 to punch its ticket to Grand Junction.

The Saints and Indians began the championship game Tuesday, but were postponed one day because of lightning. Chipola had taken a 1-0 lead before the storm rolled in.

When play resumed in the top of the fourth, Chipola added to its lead when Joey Rapp and Edmond Sparks scored.

The Saints, who earned their first JUCO berth since 1985, scored two runs in the sixth inning on a Ryan Mathews two-run home run. Still trailing 3-2, Santa Fe took the lead
in the bottom of the eighth inning, scoring three runs. Andy Mee had an RBI single in the inning and also pitched the Saints to a win in the top of the ninth.

Santa Fe will play the feature game on the first day of JUCO against the winner of the East Central District, which is down to Volunteer State (Tenn.) Community College and Middle Georgia College. That tournament begins Friday.


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