The offense carried Iowa Western Community College past the No. 1-ranked team in the country into the Alpine Bank Junior College World Series, but it was not enough to carry the Reivers to the national title.
In fact, the Reivers broke the JUCO World Series team runs record for six games with 74 runs — one more than the previous record set by San Jacinto College-North (Texas) in 1986. Iowa Western averaged more than 12 runs per game, but it was not enough, losing 13-8 to Central Arizona College in the national championship game Saturday night at Suplizio Field.
For Iowa Western to be in the national championship game was a feat in itself. The Reivers lost four pitchers to injuries this season in a district with Wabash Valley Community College (Ill.), which was No. 1 in the nation most of the season.
It was a year many did not expect Iowa Western to make it to Grand Junction. Junior college baseball fans should know by now never to count them out.
The Reivers not only found a way into the Northern District series, but handed top-ranked Wabash Valley two of its four losses to qualify for its 19th JUCO World Series in program history — 12th in coach Marc Rardin's 17 seasons. The Reivers proved they were a good team. They were the last team to lose a game in the double-elimination World Series and reached the championship game.
Iowa Western was humbled and a bit embarrassed in a 23-8 loss to Navarro on Thursday night, but quickly forgot about it, came back the next night to defeat Navarro 15-7 on Friday night to play in their fourth national championship game in 10 years.
"This is my 12th year here," Rardin said. "It helps to slow things down. I've learned how to win a tournament. This was no different. We had to sacrifice our pitching two nights ago, but we were able to come back (Friday) and dominate in a lot of ways to get here. I've learned you have to find a way to get to the championship. When you get there, you never know what happens. I would take (losing in the national championship) four years in a row."
It was Iowa Western's first loss in the national championship game in four appearances. The Reivers won the national title in 2010, 2012 and 2014.