The bridesmaid again
San Jac loses in title game for fifth time under Arrington
Five championship losses at the Alpine Bank Junior College World Series isn’t what defines San Jacinto College-North (Texas) baseball to Gators coach Tom Arrington.
San Jacinto fell to Yavapai College (Arizona) 5-2 on Saturday night at Suplizio Field, the fifth championship loss in five trips for Arrington.
The Gators have a storied history, making 21 appearances at JUCO and winning five titles. But recently, San Jacinto has struggled to take home the championship trophy.
The Gators have finished as runner-up in 2016, 2012, 2010, 2004 and 2003 under Arrington.
“I’ve always felt good about the championship games,” Arrington said. “Obviously, I feel it’s a great reward for having a great product every year, a good team. Whether it’s championships, or it’s runner-ups or trips to the Junior College World Series, it’s an opportunity. It’s a good team every year and certainly we want to win it all, but it doesn’t identify what caliber the team is or what San Jac is all about.”
Saturday, the Gators took a 2-0 lead through three innings, anchored by a strong start from Colten Schmidt. The sophomore threw five solid innings, but was pulled in the sixth inning with a 2-1 lead. Schmidt struck out seven batters and issued only one walk.
Cody Nesbit entered in relief and, with a runner on third, allowed a single to Yavapai’s Caden Golby that tied the game.
In that situation, Arrington said, the game was pitch-to-pitch, especially with Yavapai starter JoJo Romero cruising. Bringing in Nesbit seemed like the right call to stay on top.
“Colten was doing a great job,” Arrington said. “Romero was doing a great job and it was a tight situation. We felt like Colten was making his pitches and we had opportunities early, maybe we didn’t extend the opportunities we had enough. I knew Nesbit had a few innings in him and, unfortunately, it was a one-pitch game. He left the ball up and we knew Romero wasn’t going to give us much after that.”
The Roughriders added three runs in the final two innings to pull away.
Romero stifled the Gators’ offense after the third inning. He threw a complete game and struck out 15 batters without issuing a walk.
Ryan January, the Gators’ leading power hitter with four home runs, said there wasn’t much behind the offense slowing down. San Jacinto still finished with eight hits — the same number as Yavapai — and had opportunities to retake the lead.
“I don’t think we really struggled,” January said. “The guy on the mound for them beat us today. We put eight hits on the board and couple things go differently here and there, we win this game.”
Arrington said the Gators took advantage of some of their offensive opportunities, but couldn’t sustain them.
San Jac left only four runners on base and had two extra-base hits.
“We couldn’t extend it,” Arrington said. “We got the single digits up there but couldn’t turn them into crooked numbers. Those are the opportunities we missed. We had six hits in the first four innings. If we can capitalize on our opportunities and maybe put a crooked number up there, we can chase (Romero) out of there earlier. He ended up getting into his groove.”
The Gators have qualified for the past two JUCO World Series, and Arrington said he hopes his team returns in the future.
The quality of the program is strong, he added, and he’s confident San Jacinto draws quality players.
“It’s tough because we put together a quality club, a fine group of young men that are very, very talented,” Arrington said. “They were pitching well and we weren’t. Just came up short.”