Saints outlast Pioneers in high-scoring affair
True fans of the Alpine Bank Junior College World Series have noticed a trend in the past few years.
The Wednesday afternoon elimination game of the 18- (or 19-) game tournament is traditionally the highest-scoring one of the bunch.
Wednesday’s Santa Fe (Fla.) College-Spartanburg (S.C.) Methodist College game lived up to that billing.
Santa Fe, bouncing back from Tuesday’s 9-4 loss to San Jacinto (Texas) College-North, remained alive in the double-elimination bracket with a 15-12 victory.
This one had it all: two lead changes, a tie score in the middle innings and one tournament record tied — and that by a player on the losing team.
Spartanburg’s Marty Gantt did all he could to put the Pioneers on his shoulders, but couldn’t quite pull it off.
Gantt hit home runs in three successive at bats, knocking in seven runs.
“I’ve had three or four two-home-run games this year,” Gantt said, who hit 20 total on the season.
He’d have traded any of his three long balls Wednesday for a chance to be one of the four teams remaining in the tournament.
“It doesn’t matter how well I do,” Gantt said. “The key is to come out here and win.”
Spartanburg took a 5-0 lead in the top of the second inning, four of the runs coming on Gantt’s two-out grand slam.
He hit a solo shot in the fifth, helping his team to a 7-4 lead.
Santa Fe took its first lead in the bottom of the fifth with six runs on four hits, scoring two of the runs on a throwing error.
“You can’t make mistakes and win here,” said Spartanburg coach Tim Wallace, who wrapped up his third tournament appearance Wednesday.
Santa Fe took a seemingly comfortable 15-10 lead in the seventh, but this was the Wednesday afternoon game of JUCO, where no lead is safe.
The Pioneers scored twice in the top of the ninth and got two runners on before Andy Mee came on in relief to induce a ground-out to end the game.
Keon Broxton, Mee, Ryan Mathews, Bobby Triglia and Alex Godshall each had two hits for Santa Fe.
“Mathews and Broxton put us on their backs,” Santa Fe coach Johnny Wiggs said.
Mathews, who had a two-run home run and a run-scoring single, said the Saints weren’t daunted by Tuesday’s loss.
“We knew we had to bounce back,” he said.
“We came into this tournament knowing we had to put a lot of runs on the board,” Wiggs said.
Most important, he said. “We’re in the final four.”
The Saints play at 3 p.m. today in another elimination game. With the staff he has available to pitch the rest of the week, Wiggs likes his team’s chances.
“We can score enough runs to win,” he said.