Johnson settles down
Reivers' pitcher overcomes 1st-inning nerves, shuts out Sharks
Sean Johnson was in trouble after only one pitch.
He hit Miami Dade College speedster Darren Seferina with the first pitch of the game Wednesday night. Then, Johnson gave up a single. Two runners on, no outs, good hitting team — big trouble.
But Johnson responded, getting the next three batters outs.
It set the tone for Iowa Western, then the bats took over to lead the Reivers to a 10-0 win in five innings over Miami Dade on Wednesday at the Alpine Bank Junior College World Series at Suplizio Field.
“The world was lifted off my shoulders,” he said about getting out of that first-inning jam.
Johnson, who grew up in Durango before going to high school in Colorado Springs, said he had family in the stands, and the huge crowd was a little nerve-racking at first.
“I think that’s the biggest crowd I’ll ever pitch in front of,” he said with a smile.
The 6-foot-7, 205-pounder said he’s played a lot of games with fewer than 100 people in the stands. On Wednesday, there were 8,609 in attendance.
“I think once I got the emotions out of the way and started gathering myself, everything started settling down,” he said.
Iowa Western coach Marc Rardin said getting complete games is crucial to keeping the pitching staff fresh during a week-long tournament.
“The last two games we’ve thrown two guys, so that’s huge,” he said.
The Reivers took control of the game in the third inning when Jacob Sheldon-Collins and Alex Krupa had back-to-back doubles followed by a run-scoring single from Jason McMurray for a 4-0 lead.
The hit parade continued in the fourth when the Reivers ripped five hits, including an RBI double by Jake Scudder.
Although Iowa Western didn’t hit any home runs, its players smashed the ball all over the field, pounding out 12 hits — including four doubles.
David Parrett, who was one of seven players to get a hit for the Reivers, went 3 for 3 and scored two runs.
“It comes down to our process, and we really preach barreling balls up, and that’s all you can really do. You don’t worry about hits, you worry about results,” he said.
Rardin said it’s all about making good contact at the plate.
“It just went our way tonight, but the more we can get a barrel on a ball, the more chance you have to have it go your way,” he said.
Miami Dade starter Jonathan Bermudez set the Reivers down in order in the first inning, then gave up two hits and one run in the second. But in the third he departed with an injury after giving up the two doubles.
Miami Dade head coach Danny Price said Bermudez may have tweaked his left shoulder while warming up in the bullpen.
“But it was all about Iowa Western, the way they swung the bat,” Price said. “There’s no excuses. We didn’t match up on the mound, we didn’t match up with the bats, and Iowa Western really swung the bats, and we threw some good pitches.”
Johnson gave up four hits, struck out four and walked one, but he called his stuff “subpar” on the night,
Relying on his fastball, Johnson moved it in and out well, and Rardin said that was the key.
“He didn’t even throw 10 breaking balls. He threw two change-ups and six curveballs. He had his fastball away, and we moved it in and out,” he said.
The sophomore, who is headed to the University of Mississippi next year, finished with 79 pitches, and that included a 13-pitch at-bat by the Sharks’ Nick Bateman, who finally lined out to McMurray to end the fourth with runners on the corners.
The two teams will now have rematch games today against opponents they defeated earlier.
Miami Dade faces Spartanburg Methodist College (South Carolina) at 3 p.m. The Sharks won the first matchup 8-3 on Monday.
Iowa Western is the lone unbeaten team in the tournament and will take on Midland College (Texas) at 7:30 p.m. The Reivers beat the Chaparrals 9-0 on Monday.