CVCC playing in World Series
By Jason Brassell
Chattahoochee Valley Community College is headed to Grand Junction, Colo., once again, and this time around they made it in dramatic fashion. The Pirates went undefeated in their conference tournament to become the Alabama Community College Conference Champions. They are headed to Colorado for the National Junior College Association Division 1 World Series, where they’ll compete with teams from around the country. CVCC went into the double elimination tournament as the No. 3 seed in the South Division of the ACCC. Their first game was a 7-2 victory against Wallace State, the No. 2 seed in the North Division. The second game was another huge match up between the Pirates and Wallace-Dothan, the No. 1 overall seed in the conference. The two teams split the regular season, winning two games each. CVCC was able to take care of the Govs in the game that really counted, winning by a 7-4 margin.
The Pirates were then faced with the tough task of beating a red hot Lawson State team. It took 10 innings, but the Pirates were able to finally defeat the Cougars 5-4. This gave CVCC the advantage of having a day to rest and scout the teams that were battling to meet the Pirates for the championship. That team ended up being L.B. Wallace, a hot hitting team that was on a run of four games with at least 10 runs. The Saints started the scoring with a solo home run in the top of the second inning. The Pirates were able to come back with two runs of their own in the bottom of the third via a two run home run from Jack Lipson. That is when CVCC began to have pitching problems, as L.B. Wallace scored a run after two walks and batter hit by a pitch. Those pitching issues continued in the fifth inning, as L.B. Wallace scored four runs off of a walk, a two-run home run, a triple, a single, and three batters hit by a pitch. Two more walks in the top of the sixth helped the Saints build a 7-2 lead.
CVCC was able to push across one run in the bottom of the sixth via a sacrifice fly from Jason Rooks. Another walk to the leadoff hitter in the top of the eighth inning led to another run for L.B. Wallace, giving the Saints a 8-3 lead. The score stayed that way heading into the bottom of the ninth, where the Pirates would almost need a miracle to pull off the win.
It really looked as if CVCC and L.B. Wallace would have to play a second game to decide the conference champions, as the Pirates were not able to get key hits when they needed them the first eight inning of the game. They loaded the bases in the first inning and second inning, leaving all of the runners stranded. Two more base runners were stranded in the fourth inning. At the end of the day the Pirates had 15 men left on base. The Saints looked confident, while it seemed like everyone else was preparing themselves for a second game.
That’s when the fireworks started. Austin Zeitler started the bottom of the ninth inning off with a solo home run that brought the score to 8-4. The Pirates were able to load the bases up with leadoff hitter Davis Schwartz in the batter’s box. Now, Schwartz is the leadoff hitter for a reason. He’s expected to be a good contact hitter that can get on base for the guys deeper in the lineup to hit in. He should and does have a good batting average but is not expected to be a power hitter. In fact, Schwartz came up to the plate for this at bat with zero home runs in almost 150 plate appearances.
His first home run was the biggest one of the season for the Pirates. The second baseman launched the ball past the outfielders and over the wall for a grand slam, cutting the deficit to only one run. Suddenly, the Pirates were back in this game, but it would take more fireworks to actually win it. Andrew Greckel came up to the plate and walked, eventually getting to third base on an overthrow. L.B. Wallace intentionally walked Kale Ledford and Rooks to load the bases. This would ensure a force out at all four bases when the next batter came up. That next batter was Tyler, who ensured a force out wasn’t happening. The third baseman made his only hit of the game count, scoring Greckel from third base, clinching the conference championship, and sending CVCC to the NJCAA World Series.
First-year head coach Hunter Vick said that he is very excited for the players.
“Our players have faced adversity all year. First, our batting cage got knocked over in November, and we still don’t have one. On top of that, we lost two of our better arms and shortstop within the first month of the season, which would be tough for any team. Big credit to the players for staying together and keeping the big picture in mind. I can’t say enough good things about this team. I’m happy to be a part of this great group of guys.”
Vick and his Pirates will play their first game in the NJCAA against New Mexico Junior College. The Thunderbirds won the Western Junior College Athletic Conference and will go into the NJCAA World Series with a 42-15 record overall, while averaging almost nine runs scored per game. CVCC goes into the contest with a 35-18 record overall and a six game win streak.
The game will be this Saturday at 5 p.m. ET. The winner of the game will then play Monday at 12 p.m. ET, while the loser will play Sunday at 9:30 p.m. ET. Games will be streamed at www.njcaatv.com.