JUCO D-I Update: Four’s A Crowd

For the ninth consecutive year, a new Division I JUCO World Series champion will be crowned. With Hagerstown (Md.) CC taking care of defending champion Chipola (Fla.) JC 10-7 on Tuesday, the Hawks will spar with Shelton State (Ala.) CC, Grayson County (Texas) CC and Central Arizona JC for supremacy in Grand Junction, Colo.

Hagerstown will take on Shelton State in the afternoon matchup at Suplizio Field. Both schools suffered their only tournament losses to Grayson, so a loss for either would send them packing.

In their defeat of Chipola, Hagerstown used an offensive explosion in the fourth inning to bid the Indians an early farewell. Three Hawks homered in the inning, capped off by a three-run shot from Charles Johnson with two outs that gave Hagerstown a 10-5 lead that it would not relinquish.

Hagerstown then won a tightly contested bout with Alvin (Texas) CC despite surrendering 17 hits to the Dolphins. Tied at 8-8 through the first five frames, Jacob Darr grounded out to second to score David Zaminski and put the Hawks ahead. DH Roland Thiele tacked on an insurance run with a base hit to right field for his fourth hit of the day to give Hagerstown the lead for good. Thiele is batting a team-leading .583 in the tournament with two homers and five RBIs.

Shelton State was thrust into the losers’ bracket yesterday when it was thumped by Grayson 13-2. Vikings starter Danny Grande was economical in five innings of work, allowing two runs, walking three and striking out four.

Grayson, the tournament’s lone unblemished team, is scheduled to play Central Arizona in the nightcap.

The Vikings have conceded just 12 runs to their opponents in three games, a stingy total with consideration to the high-scoring nature of the tournament. Conversely, Central Arizona has allowed 37 runs in its four games, but has also scored a tournament-high 62 runs, including 28 in a romp over Iowa Western CC on Tuesday. The matchup figures to be a perfect juxtaposition of the strengths of both schools.

A Grayson victory would end Central Arizona’s season and put the Vikings in the championship to await the winner of Hagerstown and Shelton State. If Central Arizona can stave off elimination, then the team with the most games played (among Grayson and the Hagerstown-Shelton State winner) will receive a bye to the championship round while the other two schools slug it out for the other spot. If there is a tie for most games played, a coin toss will be used as the tie-breaker.