Wallace-Dothan joins JUCO party for the first time
A throwing error on a sacrifice bunt allowed Wallace Community College-Dothan (Alabama) to score the winning run in the bottom of the ninth inning Wednesday.
The throwing error allowed the Governors to finally win the Southeastern District championship and qualify for the Alpine Bank Junior College World Series.
The tournament is played every year in Ozark, Alabama, which is less than 25 miles north of Dothan, but the Governors have never been able to win the tournament in their own back yard.
Until this year, when they entered as the No. 2 seed in the South Division and won their first three games to reach the championship. Tuesday, Faulkner State handed Dothan a 5-4 loss to force a second championship game, and the teams were tied 2-2 in the bottom of the ninth.
Leadoff hitter Oliver Tejeda lined a single to left, and Devante Dixon tried to bunt him over. With two strikes, he hit a liner toward second that was stopped by the diving Faulkner second baseman, who flipped the ball to his shortstop. The throw appeared to beat the runner, but the umpire said the shortstop was pulled off the bag, putting both runners on with no outs.
The next hitter, Mitch McLendon, pushed a bunt toward third that was fielded in time to get the lead runner. The throw sailed into shallow left field, allowing Tejeda to race home with the winning run as his teammates came flying out of the dugout in celebration.
This is the first time Wallace-Dothan (42-19), coached by former New York Mets catcher Mackey Sasser, has qualified for the JUCO World Series, which begins May 27 at Suplizio Field.
Four other teams have qualified — No. 1 Chipola College (Florida) from the Gulf District, No. 4 McLennan Community College (Texas) from the Southwestern District, No. 6 Cowley College (Kansas) from the Central District, and No. 8 San Jacinto College-North (Texas) from the Southern District.
The East Central tournament began Wednesday, with the two Tennessee teams knocking off the Georgia teams in the first round. Columbia State downed No. 12 Georgia Highlands 10-3 and No. 2 Dyersburg State held off East Georgia State. The Georgia clubs play an elimination game this morning, with the Tennessee teams playing for a spot in Friday’s title game.
In the Western District in Yuma, Arizona, No. 11 Southern Nevada plays Central Arizona today at noon, followed by Trinidad State and Arizona Western at 3 p.m. Both of those teams are receiving votes in the final regular-season NJCAA Division II poll. The championship game is at noon on Saturday.
The Eastern District tournament begins today in Florence, South Carolina, with Florence-Darlington Tech hosting Monroe Community College (New York). In the other first-round game, No. 10 Harford Community College (Maryland) plays USC Lancaster. Florence-Darlington is receiving votes.
Wabash Valley (Illinois), ranked No. 17, is hosting the Northern District tournament starting Friday, with Triton College (Illinois) playing Lincoln Trail (Illinois) and Wabash Valley taking on No. 19 Indian Hills (Iowa). The championship game is Sunday.
Also Friday, No. 3 Crowder College (Missouri) hosts the South Central District. Delgado Community College (Louis- iana), which is receiving votes in the rankings, plays Seminole State Junior College (Oklahoma), then plays Crowder. In the third game of the day, Crowder plays Seminole, with the top two teams playing Saturday for the title in the double-elimination tournament.