Arrington would like to add a title to his JUCO wins record

06.01.2017 | By Patti Arnold, Grand Junction Sentinel

Tom Arrington is as competitive as the next guy.

It comes with the territory when you’re the head baseball coach at San Jacinto College-North (Texas), the winningest program in Alpine Bank Junior College World Series history.

Entering this year’s tournament, the Gators were 79-36 in their previous 21 appearances — the NJCAA considers the three appearances by San Jacinto-Central separate (a 5-6 record) — and they won their first three games this week.

Tuesday night’s thrilling 9-8 victory over fellow Texas team McLennan Community College gave Arrington his 35th victory in Grand Junction, moving past legendary San Jacinto coach Wayne Graham (34-8, seven trips, five titles) and Middle Georgia’s Robert Sapp (34-11, seven trips, four titles). Arrington added to his record when San Jac beat Wabash valley 12-5 on Wednesday night.

Arrington is 36-18 in 10 trips to the JUCO World Series. He didn’t know he had passed Graham until after Tuesday night’s game.

“I’m happy Rice (where Graham is coaching now) got in the regionals this year. That was a big one for him,” Arrington said. “He tends to motivate his team and get them ready for postseason play. They were a .500 club and they win the darn (Conference USA) tournament. I can see what he did here and what he’s done at Rice, he’s the type of coach he is; he has that playoff mentality.”

Arrington, too, has that mentality. He’s brought the Gators to Grand Junction in 10 of his 17 years, and played for five national titles.

He’s still looking for his first championship. Every loss on the final Saturday night is a gut-punch, but Arrington,who won his 700th game earlier this season, has come to grips with being so close. Every year, he keeps grinding away, hoping this is the year the Gators hoist the big trophy for the first time since 1990.

“I think coming up (to Grand Junction) early in the career, really striving for a championship and pushing the guys and playing very well, and then having the situation where you’re the runner-up so many times, you’re so close,” he said.

“You feel like, man, is the Lord creating me to be the person to keep kids together, to help them deal with loss and failure? Is that my role in this world?”

He laughed when asked if he had asked the Lord if he could change roles just once.

“I’ve taken the approach, we’re going to play, we’re going to play hard and I want every season to be as good as the players can play,” he said, “and for them to move on and be successful in life. I’ll always push for that.”