Comeback win helps baseball advance at World Series
05.30.2016 | By Rob Vanya
GRAND JUNCTION, Colorado – San Jacinto College advanced to the second round of the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) World Series after an amazing 8-7 comeback win over Cowley College late Sunday night at Sam Suplizio Field in Grand Junction, Colorado.
Things looked bleak for San Jac (49-10) after a nightmarish first inning when Cowley scored 7 unearned runs due mainly to 3 costly errors and uncharacteristic poor defensive play by San Jac. But the team quickly made adjustments. Starting pitcher Devin Smeltzer (Voorhees, New Jersey / Florida Gulf Coast University) settled down and began to retire Cowley hitters, and the offense came alive in the third inning when shortstop Brandon Montgomery (Collierville, Tennessee / University of Memphis) smashed a RBI double to the left field fence, and designated hitter Ryan January (Swampscott, Massachusetts / Swampscott High School) launched a towering 3-run home run to cut Cowley’s lead to 7-4. The score stayed at 7-4 until the fifth inning when January crushed another round-tripper with a man on base, cutting Cowley’s lead to 7-6, and shifting the momentum to San Jac.
The score remained 7-6 until the ninth inning when San Jac delivered a knockout punch. With one out and the bases empty, catcher Baine Schoenvogel (Galveston / Ball High School) and pinch-hitter Liam Scafariello (Southington, Connecticut / Southington High School) hit back-to-back home runs to put San Jac ahead 8-7. The team’s rock-solid reliever Cody Nesbit (La Porte / La Porte High School) kept Cowley off the board in the bottom of the ninth to qualify for the win.
San Jac Head Coach Tom Arrington called the dramatic comeback victory a masterpiece. “I’ve coached hundreds of games and this win over a very talented Cowley team has to rank among the top five,” he commented. “I cannot be more excited and proud for the players for coming back the way they did. It’s extremely difficult to fall behind 7-0 and win a game. The guys did not get down or discouraged. They did a great job of adjusting and just showed a lot of heart and perseverance.”
San Jac is the nation’s top-ranked junior college team by Perfect Game and is ranked No. 2 in the nation by the NJCAA. Cowley (44-17 overall, 25-11 conference record) was ranked as high as No. 4 in the nation by the NJCAA during the regular season and finished the season ranked No. 18 (the week of May 11).
San Jac will next play on Tuesday, May 31 at 7:30 p.m. (MST) against Cisco College.
San Jacinto College has won five national titles, has appeared in 13 national championship games, and has qualified for the JUCO World Series 24 times, all of which are national records. Arrington has guided the team to the JUCO World Series 11 times and the team has finished as national runner-up five times in his 15-year tenure.
The JUCO World Series schedule, tournament bracket, stats and game results are available on the JUCO website at jucogj.org. 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.