Ten Junior College teams from all over the country assembled at Suplizio Field on Saturday to begin the 55th year of the College World Series in Grand Junction. The College World Series is celebrating their 75th year all together. Greeted by 30-plus miles an hour winds, the jubilant players took the field in hopes of becoming the 2012 College World Series Champs. With their hopes high and their coaches inspiring them to do their best, they began the round robin tournament. The fans were gathered in the stands and were excited for the start.
The field was in excellent condition as always and the wind did not dampen the spirits of the players or fans alike. As one player told me “the wind blows for both teams.”
I got to the first game early to take in the new 8.3 million dollar press box and handicap seating addition to Lincoln Park Stadium. Known as the “Tower at Lincoln Park” and standing four stories, it features all new concession stands that serve burgers, hotdogs, pizza, beverages and many more delectable items for your eating pleasure on the ground floor. The second deck is an observation deck designed and equipped for handicap access. Floor three houses the all new press boxes equipped with state of the art equipment including free WiFi services so bring your internet capable devices and feel free to login. Additional media services include live streaming.
These new press boxes rival most any other stadium in the country in terms of functionality, advanced technology and comfort.
The fourth floor is an open space conference room equipped with a small kitchen and serving area. It was designed and will be used for private events during the games or other times during the season. You can rent the floor for $400 plus catering fees.
This new tower is a welcome addition to the stadium as well as the 902 stadium seats that have been added to the area beneath the tower and down the first base line. The ball park’s capacity is now up to 7,042 seats. The costs of the renovations were covered mostly by grants and donations for the most part but the committee is working to acquire more donations to pay off the $88,000 balance.
The day started with the usual introductions and moved on to the National Anthem performed by 10-year-old Bridget Miller of Grand Junction and delivered very well I might add. The players took the field for the first game that pitted the two top favorites in the tourney to win, number one ranked Iowa Western Community College Reivers versus the San Jacinto College-North Gators.
The wind was blowing hard from right to left and caused a few problems for the outfielders. On one particular play, the ball was hit to left field and the fielder started running in toward the infield but then started to back pedal as the ball was hit 20 feet over his head. Balls hit to the outfield were hard to judge all day.
The Gators held the lead for most of the game behind a strong pitching performance by Daniel Stumpf. In the seventh inning an infield mishap cost them two runs that put the Reivers back in contention. A ground ball back to Stumpf would have been an easy double play if not for the shortstop Galli Cribs or second baseman Jarred Francher not covering the bag. Instead of three outs, it resulted in two Reivers base runners on and one out. The next batter lined a double to right field and both runners scored to bring them to within one of the lead. San Jacinto rallied in the eighth and went on to win the game five to three. Daniel Stumpf went the distance allowing two runs on five hits. His fastball was hitting 91mph and he had good control of his slider and breaking ball.
These teams put on quite and show and because it is a double elimination, they could still end up playing for the championship.
The attendance was less than full and was probably due to the windy conditions that lasted all day. However a lot of folks were chatting about the new additions and how it made for a much better JUCO experience then in the past. Perhaps the word will spread and we will start to see capacity crowds for the rest of the tournament. If you haven’t seen the new tower, make plans to get out and see it during JUCO week, you won’t be disappointed.