San Jac returning to World Series
05.19.2016 | By Rob Vanya
Team claims regional championship with a gutsy 4-1 win over Wharton
Defending regional champion San Jacinto College is headed back to the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) World Series in Grand Junction, Colorado after a gutsy 4-1 win over conference foe Wharton County Junior College in the Region XIV championship game, played Wednesday, May 18 at Concordia University in Austin.
It will be the second consecutive trip to the national tournament for San Jac, which won the 2015 regional tournament as well. San Jac (48-10) is the nation’s top-ranked junior college team by Perfect Game and is ranked No. 2 in the nation by the NJCAA.
They lived up to the national rankings, going undefeated in the regional tournament and outscoring opponents 24-3. San Jac dominated in the first two wins of the regional tournament (9-0 vs. Bossier Parish, and 9-1 vs. Panola), which were both called in the seventh inning due to the tournament run rule. The third game against Wharton was a tense pitchers’ duel from start to finish, but San Jac showed resiliency by eking out a 2-1 win. The fourth game – the championship match – was also a tense pitchers’ duel until the ninth inning, when San Jac mounted a 3-run rally to put the game away.
The key to San Jac’s victory over Wharton to claim the regional title was a winning formula that served the team well through most of the regular season – dominant pitching, solid defense, and timely hitting.
Starting pitcher sophomore Colten Schmidt (La Porte / La Porte High School) tossed 7 quality innings, firing 7 strikeouts, while allowing 1 run on 4 hits, and 1 walk. Reliever Hudson Treu (Houston / Houston Christian High School) came into the game in the bottom of the eighth inning in a high-pressure situation with runners on first and third with no outs and San Jac clinging to a 1-0 lead. The runner on third scored on a double steal to tie the game at 1-1, but the run was charged to Schmidt. Treu struck out the side to limit the damage. Though Treu only pitched one inning, he qualified for the win because San Jac scored 3 runs in the top of the ninth inning. San Jac’s closer Jorge Fernandez (Del Rio / Del Rio High School) gave up a lead-off double in the bottom of the ninth, but then settled down and retired the next three batters to earn the save.
Key contributors on offense were sophomore catcher/outfielder Ryan January (Swampscott, Massachusetts / Swampscott High School), sophomore infielder Caden Williams (Sugar Land / Dulles High School), and sophomore catcher Baine Schoenvogel (Galveston / Ball High School). January led off the ninth inning with a double, and Williams drilled an RBI single that brought home January for the go-ahead run that turned the momentum of the game. Schoenvogel followed Williams, and smashed an RBI triple to the centerfield wall. Shortly thereafter, he raced home on a passed ball for the fourth and final run.
After the game, Schmidt was named Player of the Tournament by virtue of his win in game 1 and his dominant pitching performance in game 4. San Jac Head Coach Tom Arrington was also named Region XIV Coach of the Year for the 11th time.
Arrington had nothing but praise for the team. “After the game, I told the players how proud everyone is of how well they performed and to just enjoy the moment because they deserve it,” he commented. “It’s a great accomplishment to win the regional tournament. Winning the South Zone title was step one. Winning the regional tournament was the second step, and a very big step. Now the final step is to win the World Series. These young men represent San Jacinto College so well.”
At the national tournament San Jac will face Cowley College (Arkansas City, Kansas) in round one on Sunday, May 29 at 7:30 p.m. Arrington said the game against Cowley could be the most important one in the tournament. “Cowley has a lengthy tradition of excellence, and has played at the JUCO World Series many times,” he said. “Statistically this year, their team is very similar to our team, so it will be a very evenly matched game. We will do our best to be prepared to compete against a very tough opponent.”
San Jac has won five national titles, has appeared in 13 national championship games, and has now qualified for the JUCO World Series 25 times, all of which are national records.
For more information about San Jacinto College baseball, visit sanjacsports.com.
About San Jacinto College
Surrounded by monuments of history, industries and maritime enterprises of today, and the space age of tomorrow, San Jacinto College has been serving the citizens of East Harris County, Texas, for more than 50 years. As an Achieving the Dream Leader College, San Jacinto College is committed to the goals and aspirations of a diverse population of approximately 30,000 credit students. The College offers 186 degrees and certificates, with 46 technical programs and a university transfer division. Students benefit from a support system that maps out a pathway for success, and job training programs that are renowned for meeting the needs of growing industries in the region. San Jacinto College graduates contribute nearly $690 million each year to the Texas workforce.