NMJC Baseball Claims First WJCAC Title Since 2008
5/5/2014 2:47:48 p.m. - Hobbs, NM. [Story courtesy of Hobbs News Sun - May 4, 2014]
The New Mexico Junior College baseball team had its back against the wall after the Thunderbirds lost to Frank Phillips in the first game of a doubleheader 3-2 in walk-off fashion Saturday in Borger, Texas.
It was unpleasantly familiar territory for some on the NMJC roster as the T-Birds led from the start of WJCAC play last year until splitting a four-game series with Frank Phillips in the final week of the season while Midland College swept to snatch the title away from NMJC.
However this year turned out to be different as the T-Birds left no doubt in game two.
NMJC exploded for 11 runs in the second inning to overcome a 2-0 deficit and eventually run-ruled the Plainsmen 14-3 to claim its first WJCAC title since 2008.
The T-Birds (34-22, 28-8) finish the season two games ahead of Frank Phillips (35-20, 26-10) in the final standings.
“After the first game I’ll be honest, the guys were devastated and I was worried about how they would respond,” NMJC coach Josh Simpson said. “But they came together and didn’t let a slow start bother them. Then the offense finally erupted.”
The 11-run second inning in game two was ignited by a Clark Kahawaii double as eventually a Will Bass sacrifice fly and a Braden Martin RBI single tied it 2-2 with the bases loaded and one out.
That’s when A.J. Perez blew the game open with a grand slam to give NMJC a 6-2 advantage. Austin Botello followed with what appeared to be another home run, but a Frank Phillips outfielder leaped and reached over the fence to rob the home run, but couldn’t hang onto it as the ball fell back in play and Botello ended up with a triple.
After a Marsh RBI single, Alexis Torres hit his team-high 12th home run of the season to make it 9-2 as the T-Birds tacked two more on in the frame to make it 11-2.
It was more than enough for NMJC starter Colby Price as the freshman left-hander went all five innings in the run-rule shortened game and gave up three runs (two earned) on five hits with three strikeouts and three walks.
Kahawaii finished 3-for-4 for NMJC in game two with three doubles and an RBI, Martin was 3-for-3 with two doubles and two RBI, Botello was 3-for-4 with a triple and an RBI, Perez was 2-for-3 with the grand slam, Terance Barela was 2-for-3 with an RBI, Marsh was 2-for-4 and Torres was 1-for-4 with the two-run homer.
In the first game, NMJC’s bats were kept quiet as the T-Birds lost 3-2.
Torres was 2-for-3 with an RBI, Marsh was 2-for-3 and Botello was 1-for-3 with a triple and RBI.
Fernando Fernandez picked up the loss, going all 6 1-3 innings and giving up three runs on five hits with four strikeouts and six walks.
NMJC will open the Region V Tournament 8 p.m. (CST) Friday against the No. 4 seed out of the North Texas Junior Collage Athletic Conference at Dan Law Field on the campus of Texas Tech University in Lubbock.
[SUBMITTED PHOTO: The New Mexico Junior College baseball team poses after beating Frank Phillips 14-3 in the second game of a doubleheader Saturday in Borger, Texas, to clinch the Western Junior College Athletic Conference title – the program’s first since 2008.]