JUCO Notes: Handshake’s nothing to get shook up about

Handshake’s nothing to get shook up about

The Cochise (Ariz.) College players shook hands with the Connors State (Okla.) College players after eliminating the Cowboys from the Alpine Bank Junior College World Series with a 3-1 win Tuesday.

That’s noteworthy because Neosho County (Kan.) Community College took offense when the Apaches didn’t shake hands after their game Sunday, a 2-1 victory by Neosho.

Cochise coach Todd Inglehart said in the Arizona league where the Apaches compete, the teams don’t shake hands after games, a practice that predates his coaching days there. However, his team shook hands with opponents after each Western District game, and he said the Apaches would have done the same Sunday night, but …

“To be honest with you, I just assumed they were doing the same thing because they went down the left-field line, then we went down the right-field line. No big deal,” Inglehart said. “People probably saw that in a different light. Heck, it was a great game, very well-coached, they were great kids, just like our guys are. I’m not sure how big of a deal’s been made of it.”

Inglehart reiterated it’s not a rule he had anything to do with creating, nor did it reflect poor sportsmanship after a loss.

Go Hawaiian

As is tradition, tonight is Hawaiian night at the ballpark.

The JUCO tournament directors will don their finest island wear and invite fans to join them. And with the tournament directors, the uglier the shirt, the better.

Alpine Bank awards 5 scholarships

During a pregame ceremony before Tuesday’s night game, Alpine Bank announced the recipients of the scholarships it gives annually to local baseball players.

Alpine Bank gives a scholarship to one player from each of the Grand Valley’s four high schools and one to a Colorado Mesa University baseball player.

This year’s high school recipients are: Kyle Serrano of Central; Josh Moore of Grand Junction; Casey Mays of Fruita Monument; and Caden Woods of Palisade.

CMU’s Nate Robertson received an Alpine Bank scholarship for the second consecutive year.

More than $60,000 has been donated since the scholarship program began 14 years ago.

Is he really only a freshman?

After pitching a complete game Tuesday to keep Cochise’s season alive at JUCO, Steven Naemark referred to himself an old freshman.

What constitutes old? Age 23, evidently, as that’s what Naemark is.

He then explained how he got to be an “old” freshman returning to baseball:

“Out of high school, I actually quit the game for a little bit and didn’t go to school, so I didn’t use up my eligibility. I just worked some crappy jobs — fast food, call centers and stuff — and didn’t really realize how hard real life was.

“And then I started playing baseball again for fun. Luckily I played in a summer league where Coach (Todd) Inglehart was out there, and he just picked me up randomly off the streets, gave me a chance to come out and play, and I’m loving it.”

It’s what you did, not didn’t do

It was tough exiting the JUCO World Series with a 7-6 loss in 10 innings to Palm Beach State (Fla.) College on Tuesday, but Midland College has a healthy perspective about what happened.

Yes, Midland wanted to win a national title, but in the end, all that happened Tuesday was the Chaparrals lost a baseball game.

“For me it’s more about the relationships with the players and all the things this team went through,” Midland coach David Coleman said in summing up his team’s season. “Like I said many times, every team has a story, and we know what ours is. And it’s just a special group of kids that’s really bonded together and made some friendships for lifetimes. And at the end of the day, that’s what matters.”

Two fathers of Midland players died during the past eight months, including one a week ago, and that has given the Chaparrals a greater appreciation of team and friendships.

“You know, we’ve had a lot tougher things to deal with than losing a baseball game in the last week,” Coleman said. “So, the perspective of it, the important thing is what we did, not what we didn’t do.”

Card added to deck

Jake Holifield arrived in Grand Junction on Friday to join his Midland (Texas) College teammates after attending his father’s funeral.

The relief pitcher missed the photo session when the players posed for their baseball cards, which are sold at the stadium.

Steve Stewart of the Grand Junction Lions Club, the Chaparrals’ host, arranged for Holifield to have his photo taken Monday before their game, and CPC Solutions had the cards printed and delivered to the team on Tuesday.

Texans won’t want to see him again

On day after throwing 4 1/3 innings of scoreless relief to get the win in Palm Beach State (Fla.) College’s 10-inning victory over Navarro (Texas) College, Jose Lazaro returned to the mound Tuesday in the Panthers’ 10-inning win over Midland (Texas) College, again getting the win.

He went 1 2/3 innings against the Chaparrals and allowed one hit and no runs.

“We didn’t plan on using him,” Palm Beach coach Kyle Forbes said. “I didn’t even have his name on the board because he threw yesterday.”

But Lazaro approached the Panthers’ pitching coach and told him he felt fine. But Forbes needed Lazaro to prove it.

“We said, ‘All right, go out and play catch and see how you feel,’ ” Forbes said. “And he played catch before the game and said, ‘I feel loose,’ so we used him at the end, and he did a great job.”

What’s missing from this picture?

Midland’s loss Tuesday and Navarro’s loss Monday mean JUCO fans will see something different this year in the championship game. Actually, it’s something they won’t see.

For the first time since 2007, the championship game will not have a team from Texas in it.


Tuesday’s three games drew a combined 11,832 fans to Suplizio Field: 2,388 for Game 11; 2,067 for Game 12; and 7,377 for Game 13, the night game.

The tourney’s four-day total for attendance is 78,026.


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