Santa Fe uses its bats to avenge San Jac loss
Johnny Wiggs has learned this season.
He used to be concerned when his Santa Fe (Fla.) College baseball team wasn’t showing what he considered the proper intensity.
He’s figured out that this year’s team plays better when it’s relaxed.
“They’re really a confident, loose group,” Wiggs, Santa Fe’s coach, said.
Both factors played heavily in the Saints’ 12-4, seven-inning victory over San Jacinto (Texas) College-North in the losers’ bracket of the Alpine Bank Junior College World Series on Thursday.
The Saints pounded out 15 hits, none of them going over the wall. Santa Fe scored its 12 runs playing small ball.
“We hit our share of home runs but we like to run, we like to bunt,” Wiggs said. “Normally we’re a gap-type of team.”
They hit plenty of those — five doubles, to be exact.
With the score tied 3-3, Santa Fe scored four runs in the bottom of the third inning and never looked back.
In large part, that was because of starting pitcher Gary Merians.
Pitching on two days rest, Merians pitched three batters into the seventh inning.
He wasn’t overpowering, scattering seven hits and striking out five and pitching out of a jam in the second inning.
“The bottom line: Gary Merians threw well today,” Wiggs said.
The Saints got good offensive production from Keonn Broxton, who leads the tournament in runs scored, and by designated hitter Andy Mee, who went 4 for 5 with four RBI.
Mee does it all for Santa Fe.
“He’s our best player,” Wiggs said.
Mee also plays center field, Oh, he’s also the Saints’ closer.
He’s been extremely effective in the latter role in the tournament.
In his fourth relief appearance of the week, Mee came on with one out and the bases loaded in the seventh inning and struck out two batters to end San Jacinto’s final threat and grab his fourth save of the tournament.
“I love the pressure,” Mee said of coming in late to pitch.
“He’s just a baseball player,” Wiggs said of the Florida Atlantic University-bound sophomore.
After going undefeated heading into Wednesday night’s game, San Jacinto finished fourth with its two consecutive losses.
“It certainly looked like we were one hit away,” San Jac coach Tom Arrington said of his team’s losses to Howard (Texas) College and Santa Fe.
The Gators left five runners in scoring position on Thursday.
Santa Fe, which was relegated to the losers’ bracket Tuesday with a 9-4 loss to San Jac, earned its second consecutive victory since that loss by playing relaxed and loose.
“I’ve learned to stay out their way,” Wiggs said. “They’ll do fine.”