San Jac headed back to JUCO

Four games, 50 innings of baseball.

“It was difficult. We had lightning delays, rain delays, (Wednesday) night around the 14th inning there were bugs flying everywhere, a lot of crazy stuff,” San Jacinto (Texas) College-North coach Tom Arrington said Thursday after the Gators finally won a game the old-fashioned way.

San Jac beat defending national champion Navarro College 1-0 — in nine innings, no less — to clinch its 19th trip to the Alpine Bank Junior College World Series.

“With extra-inning games, they’re very demanding mentally and physically,“Arrington said. “Your players are resilient, but you know how it is. It’s a marathon.”

The Gators won a couple of marathons in the Southern District tournament, and every one was a one-run game.

They opened with a 5-4 win over Paris College in 13 innings, then won 7-6 over Navarro in 12 innings (over two days) and 6-5 in Wednesday’s 16-inning game against Galveston that went more than five hours.

“We started (the first Navarro game) the day before. It was like a 27-hour game,” Arrington said. “We got up the next morning at 7:30 to go hit, and then everybody decided it was too wet to play (at 10 a.m.), so we came back and played at 5.”

The Gators’ pitching staff combined for a two-hit shutout in the title game, with starter Daniel Stumpf throwing seven innings, allowing two hits and striking out five. Closer AJ Glasshof struck out four of the six men he faced in the final two innings, including the final out on a called third strike.

Arrington said the sophomores on this club didn’t want to be the class that didn’t make the trip to Grand Junction. After a six-year dry spell between 1991 and 1996, the Gators (37-23) have not missed the tournament two consecutive years. San Jacinto’s most recent JUCO World Series title was 1990, its record fifth.

■ In the Southeastern District, Shelton State (Ala.) College got a rare day off after reaching the championship game Wednesday night. The Bucs play the winner of Thursday’s late game between Southern Union and Wallace-Hanceville in today’s title game at noon (MDT).

■ Salt Lake Community College won its first-round game in the Western District on Thursday, 8-0 over Lamar. Central Arizona defeated Western Nevada 9-3 and plays Salt Lake tonight in the double-elimination tourney.

■ The other four district tournaments begin today, one week before the JUCO banquet at Two Rivers Convention Center.

■ Fans who want to get an up-close look at the Lincoln Park Tower don’t have to wait until JUCO begins.

On Wednesday, the JUCO Committee is hosting an open house for anyone who wants to tour the $8.3 million stadium project. Free hotdogs and soft drinks will be served from noon to 2 p.m. in the concourse area, and fans can see every aspect of the project, including the pressbox and hospitality suite.


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