San Jacinto College honors MLB players, baseball standouts
02.10.2016 | By Rob Vanya
Team remains undefeated through first 7 games
San Jacinto College honored former student-athletes and coaches who have excelled in collegiate and professional baseball at the Legends ceremony, held Friday, Feb. 5 at John Ray Harrison Field at Andy Pettitte Park, located at the San Jacinto College North Campus.
Former San Jac student-athletes and coaches recognized at the event included Matt Albers (Chicago White Sox), Duane Walker (retired Major League Baseball player), Chris Rupp (Deer Park High School Head Coach), Rusty Pendergrass (MLB scout), Donald Wright (owner of Just Wright Sports), and Brandon Belt (San Francisco Giants).
“When I think of San Jacinto College, I think of baseball and family,” commented Belt, who attended the ceremony with his wife and son, Haylee and Greyson. “The coaching staff, the players, and just the overall campus life at the College was sort of like a big family. It was a special time in my life, and as long as the College has a Legends ceremony, I hope I will be able to attend. I had opportunities to attend other colleges, but I intentionally chose San Jac because of the baseball program’s tradition of excellence.”
Belt played for San Jac in 2007, excelling as a pitcher and hitter. He transferred to the University of Texas, where he played two years for the Longhorns. He was drafted by the San Francisco Giants in 2009, moving rapidly through the farm system and joining the MLB team in 2011. He currently plays first base and outfield for the Giants, and was a member of the 2012 and 2014 World Series championship teams.
Albers also recalled with fondness his time as a student-athlete at San Jacinto College. “I was not very highly recruited out of high school, but the coaching staff at San Jac scouted me, and evidently liked what they saw and gave me a chance,” commented Albers, a relief pitcher for the Chicago White Sox. “I’m glad they had that confidence in me, and for instilling in me a drive to win. My experience at San Jac helped prepare me for playing Major League Baseball.”
Albers attended San Jacinto College in 2002. His professional career started in 2006 with the Houston Astros. In his 10 years in the majors, primarily as a reliever, he has also pitched for the Baltimore Orioles, Boston Red Sox, Arizona Diamondbacks, and the Cleveland Indians. He was considered the White Sox’ most consistent reliever for the 2015 season, in which he posted an outstanding 1.21 ERA in his 30 outings.
Relatives of the late John Ray Harrison, San Jacinto College’s first baseball coach, attended the ceremony, including his wife Barbara, their son Robert, and daughter Nancy (Harrison Farries). The ceremonial first pitch of the game that followed the Legends ceremony was delivered by Larry Wilson, San Jacinto College Board of Trustees Vice Chairman. Wilson is a longtime friend of the Harrison family, is active in community events and an avid supporter of San Jacinto College athletic programs. After the first pitch, members of the Pearland Little League team that played in the 2015 Little League World Series were recognized on the field.
Meanwhile, San Jac is dominating on the diamond, going undefeated in the first seven games of the season. The team went 4-0 in the opening tournament played in Henderson, Nevada, outscoring opposing teams 48-12. The tournament highlight was a perfect game by lefty pitcher Colten Schmidt. Schmidt’s gem was followed two games later by a no-hitter hurled by right-handed flamethrower Montana Parsons.
San Jac maintained its momentum – beating Grayson College 7-1, St. Petersburg College 9-0, and Howard College 9-1 – in the Tournament of Champions, played Feb. 5 through 7 in Houston.
The first home conference game for San Jacinto College will be on Saturday, Feb. 27 when the team will host Galveston College in a double-header that starts at 3 p.m. For more information, please 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.