Another JUCO In The Books
By Tim Merris
The Iowa Western Reivers from Council Bluff, IA captured their second JUCO World Series title Saturday night with a 6 – 5 defeat of the San Jacinto Gators of Houston, Texas. The game was played under subperb weather conditions and a sold out attendance of 9,812 at Suplizio Field. A light breeze and 78 degrees made for a great night of baseball between the No. 1 and No. 2 teams to play for the second time in the tournament. The teams opened JUCO last Saturday when San Jacinto defeated Iowa Western 5 – 2.
Iowa Western went the rest of the tournament staring at elimination with each game played. Reivers coach Marc Rardin stated after the championship win “ I’m so proud of the way this team played under the pressure of knowing each game could be their last”.
The game was a seesaw affair with the Gators scoring first on a Kirby Taylor single in the bottom of the first inning. The Reivers came back with two in the second on a towering homerun by Tournament MVP, Keaton Steele. Jarred Francher homered for the Gators and tied the score in the bottom of the inning. The gators went ahead in the third on an Estebon Gomez single that put them up 3 – 2.
The Reivers scored in the fifth to tie the score and again in the six inning to take the lead 4 – 3. The bottom of the sixth saw San Jacinto DH Kyle Chaskin take a called third strike and said something to home plate umpire Pancho Flores which resulted in Chaskin being thrown out of the game. Under the circumstances, with a one run game and this the championship game where there is no tomorrow, Chaskin clearly wasn’t thinking of his team but only himself going forward.
San Jacinto took the lead in the seventh scoring two runs on another single by Kirby Taylor giving him three RBI’s for the night but the Gator bench became less appreciative of Flores’ calls with each batter.
It appeared San Jacinto had the game in hand at this point as Iowa Western went down in order in the eighth. The ninth started with Steele and Grant Kay getting on base and advancing to second and third on a sacrifice bunt by Steven Leonard. A single by Brett Bass plated Steele to tie the game with Kay taking third. Skylar Janisse came in to pitch for the San Jacinto. After a strikeout, wild pitch and walk, the Reivers had the bases loaded with two outs. Janisse then balked and Kay scored the go ahead by a run. The balk caused a heated exchange with the Gators catcher Kyle Bacak and Flores, the home plate umpire that saw Coach Arrington join in the conversation. By this time frustration and anger was clearly growing between the Gators and Flores. Levi Meyer then flied out to end the inning with Iowa Western ahead 6 -5.
Steele was brought in to close out the ninth for the Reivers. The first two batters for the Gators, Tyler West and Reggie Wilson struck out swinging bringing up Bass who promptly tripled off the wall in deep right field. With two outs and the tying run on third, Taylor grounded out to short stop and the Iowa Western Reivers were the 2012 Grand Junction JUCO Champions.
The celebration turned ugly as two of the San Jacinto players led by Reggie Wilson followed home plate umpire Pancho Flores off the field jawing at him as they followed him toward the field exit gate. Several of the other umpires and most of the JUCO officials came between the players and Flores which then became a very disappointing shoving match between several other Gators and officials. Coach Arrington came over and yelled for his players to return to their dugout and order was restored.
The Tournament awards presentation began without incident and saw players from both teams win numerous trophies.
However, in a well played tournament and Championship game, it was very unfortunate that a couple of young men could not control their emotions and started a fracas. Going after umpires is a bush move and should not be tolerated under any condition or circumstance. The JUCO committee must take whatever action necessary to prevent this from happening in future games.
All in all, the 2012 JUCO tournament was very entertaining and the Tournament officials should be congratulated for the condition of the field, the presentation of the games and the staffing of the event. If history can be a measure of the future, we can look forward to an exciting and successful 2013 JUCO.