JUCO Notes: Stemle making run at JUCO MVP

Stemle making run at JUCO MVP

The championship game remains to be played tonight, and several players have made strong cases for being the most valuable player of the tournament, but after five games of doing a little bit of everything for Palm Beach State (Fla.) College, center fielder Mike Stemle has to be in the running.

Running being a key word. Stemle’s speed makes him a fielder with few peers and a leadoff hitter who can: bunt to get on base; beat out infield grounders for singles; and turn outfield hits from singles into doubles or doubles into triples.

With that speed comes baseball intelligence.

“Defensively, not only did he track down balls in the gaps for us all year, but he’s so bright at getting balls off the bat, he’ll come in and if there’s a ball hit on a line that looks like it’s going to be a single, he takes that away, too,” Panthers coach Kyle Forbes said.

“He can fly. Some guys have that 60-yard-dash time, and then in baseball they don’t get the jumps. He gets the great jumps and he can fly. He’s been a very huge reason for our success. He’s a great player.”

His numbers in the tournament don’t lie, either. Going into tonight’s game, Stemle is tied for the tournament lead with 11 hits and five stolen bases. He is among the leaders with a .440 average, and he has two doubles, six RBI and six runs scored. He also has two assists, including throwing out a runner at the plate.

Grandpa would have been proud

Maddie Taylor, granddaughter of late Grand Junction business and baseball icon Gene Taylor, sang the national anthem before Friday’s game between Central Alabama and Cochise.

Gene Taylor was a big supporter of American Legion baseball, and the Gene Taylor legion team was named for him.

Maddie Taylor returned to Grand Junction this week after singing with the Colorado Mesa University chamber choir at Carnegie Hall in New York City.

Taylor said singing at JUCO is memorable because it is a deep-rooted, local tradition.

“JUCO is a wonderful tradition,” Taylor said. “I feel very proud to represent our town and my family. My grandfather was an amazing man, and I feel blessed to have the opportunity to sing the anthem (at JUCO). I think it would make him proud.”

No one on base? Why bother?

Palm Beach first baseman Ryan Church faced plenty of high-pressure situations during the Panthers’ long, fraught-filled road to the championship game, and he has delivered with frightening frequency.

He’s been the most clutch hitter at the Alpine Bank Junior College World Series.

Church is 8 for 9 with runners in scoring position and leads JUCO with six, two-out RBI.

In situations with no runners on base, Church is 2 for 7. 

First error begets sixth double play

Cochise (Ariz.) College committed its first error of the tournament in its fifth game when third baseman Stephan Desgagne charged a bunt, scooped it up and one-hopped his throw, which first baseman Frank Salas couldn’t handle.

The Apaches made amends on the next play, though, when shortstop Austin Nelson latched onto a line drive and doubled the runner off first base. It was Cochise’s sixth double play of the tourney.

Desgagne then redeemed himself with his bat in the next inning, hitting a home run to pull the Apaches within 6-5. Cochise then loaded the bases, and Salas hit a two-run double to give the Apaches a 7-6 lead.

Plenty of pitching

Cochise has used four pitchers in five games.

The Apaches have used three relief pitchers: Kevin Dorantes, who made his second relief appearance Friday night; Jacob Potts, who relieved Dorantes on Friday and started and won an elimination game two days earlier; and Steven Naemark, who started and won the Apaches first elimination game, throwing all nine innings.

Potts only had to throw five innings against Neosho County (Kan.) Community College in a 16-1 win because of the run rule.

Salas, who has played first base throughout the World Series, is fourth on the team in innings pitched for the season, but he hasn’t thrown a pitch in the tournament.

Road warriors at neutral site

Cochise College (Ariz.) traveled more than 800 miles to play in the JUCO World Series, where through five games they were the visiting team each game on the scoreboard.

Walking away with runs

Cochise leadoff man Nate Hale is batting an even .200 for the JUCO World Series but is still in the top 10 for run production. Hale has drawn nine walks, and Cochise leads the tournament field having drawn 30 walks as well as 10 hit batsmen.

Attendance

Friday night’s game between Cochise (Ariz.) College and Central Alabama Community College, drew a crowd of 8,267.

That puts the tournament’s total attendance after 18 games at 110,059 with tonight’s championship game remaining to be played.

The attendance record for an eight-day, 19-game JUCO World Series is 137,920, set in 2010.


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