JUCO Notebook: Three Gordon teams have played in national tournaments this year
Gordon (Ga.) College qualified for the Alpine Bank Junior College World Series on May 21, only five days before the first pitch. And when you’re a first-time qualifier, getting travel arrangements made at the last minute can be a daunting task.
That wasn’t the case for the Highlanders, though.
“My athletic director (Todd Davis) does a phenomenal job,” Gordon coach Travis McClanahan said earlier this week. “This is our third national tournament this year. He’s a pro right now.”
Gordon’s men’s basketball team qualified for the NJCAA national tournament in Hutchinson, Kan., this past winter, and just before the baseball team opened play in Grand Junction, the softball team played in the national tournament in St. George, Utah.
“The day we played, when we won the game, he sent me an email at 11 o’clock that night,” McClanahan said. “Here are your flights, here’s when you’re going out, everything. He had that done, and the next morning we could start the work we needed to do. We were scrubbing uniforms and gave the guys the day off, and the coaches came in and got some stuff done.”
Two get tossed: Shelton State (Ala.) Community College’s Trevor Sprowl and Jake Ward were ejected in the top of the sixth inning in the Buccaneers’ 7-6 loss to San Jacinto (Texas) College-North on Thursday.
“I thought it was a quick ejection in a big game,” said Shelton coach Bobby Sprowl, who was coaching third base at the time. “I didn’t see what happened. By the time I got down there, I think (the umpire) was walking down there and threw him out. You hate that that had to happen in a big game like this.”
Austin Kilbourne attempted to slide underneath the tag of San Jacinto first baseman Esteban Gomez, but he was called out on a groundout to shortstop.
Trevor Sprowl, who was up next, vocally disagreed and was ejected. Ward was in the dugout and was ejected for vocally arguing the call.
Those have been the only ejections of the tournament.
Moving on: Seven or eight players on the Shelton State team will go on to play at a four-year school next spring. A couple of them could get a shot to play professionally.
Whatever their future may hold, coach Sprowl said he’ll always remember this group.
“This is a team I won’t forget,” Sprowl said. “It’s a credit to the kids for not giving up.”
Small ball: For years, Suplizio Field has been known for home runs, but in this JUCO World Series, there have been more sacrifice bunts (29) than home runs (24) through Game 17. The 29 sacrifice bunts are the most in at least seven years.
If you feed them: JUCO Tournament Chairman Jamie Hamilton couldn’t figure out what all the cheering was about high in the stands behind home plate. It didn’t seem to be game-related — and then he found out. People every night bring funnel cakes into the area, and a group of people in the top rows chant for them, trying to get people to share.
So Wednesday night, Hamilton bought a half-dozen funnel cakes to those folks in the top row.
He got a standing ovation, and said Thursday at least 10 people shook his hand and thanked him for the sweet treat.
Ticket surprise: Every game except Monday night, the JUCO Committee has handed out 25 tickets for seats in the Tower section to random fans as they enter the stadium, a couple of seats at a time. The entire section is reserved seating only and hasn’t sold out, so the tournament directors decided to let people spend a game in the new stadium seats as a thank-you for their support of the tournament.
Fire alarm: Early in Thursday night’s game, the fire alarm in the Lincoln Park Tower went off. After a complete search of the levels, it was determined to be a false alarm. Play was not interrupted and, despite the recorded warning to exit the building, no one left.
Attendance: Attendance in the first game Thursday was the lowest of the tournament with 2,189 fans. It was three fewer than the night game on opening day, when cold and wind kept people away from Suplizio Field.
Thursday night’s crowd was 9,069, bringing the total for the day to 11,258 and the total for the tournament to 88,427.