GRAND JUNCTION, Colorado – The San Jacinto College baseball team’s quest for a sixth national championship fell short in a heartbreaking 5-2 loss to Yavapai College in the final game of the the 2016 National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) World Series played June 4 in Grand Junction, Colorado.
The championship game was a tense pitchers’ duel throughout. In the end San Jac’s potent offense, which produced 46 runs in the first five games of the tournament, was held at bay by Yavapai’s ace pitcher JoJo Romero, a top MLB prospect.
San Jac Head Coach Tom Arrington tipped his hat to Yavapai, and especially to Romero. “It was a great matchup against two evenly talented teams and I feel like the game was so close that it could have gone either way,” he commented. “Our pitchers tossed a good game, but Romero was throwing a fastball that reached 96 mph and mixed it up with a really good changeup. We just had trouble mounting any sustained offensive drive.”
Despite the loss, Arrington expressed pride in the team. “The coaching staff wanted to win the national title so much, mostly for the players on this team because they deserve it,” he said. “We are all so proud of what they accomplished this year, not only on the field, but also in every area of life. They are talented student-athletes but each one is also an all-around great individual. This may well be the best overall team this staff has ever coached.”
Three San Jac players were named to the JUCO World Series All-Tournament Team – catcher Baine Schoenvogel (Galveston / Ball High School), pitcher Devin Smeltzer (Voorhees, New Jersey / Florida Gulf Coast University), and designated hitter Ryan January (Swampscott, Massachusetts / Swampscott High School). “When three of the nine positions of an all-tournament team, which are chosen from the top 10 teams of the nation, are from San Jac, I think that’s a good indication of the talent level of this year’s team,” commented Arrington.
In the title match versus Yavapai, San Jac scored first in the second inning when left fielder Tanner Schuetz (Sugar Land / Kempner High School) smashed a double down the third base line to score Schoenvogel. In the third, January singled up the middle to score shortstop Brandon Montgomery (Collierville, Tennessee / Collierville High School). He got aboard via a hustling triple to right field.
Starting pitcher Colten Schmidt (La Porte / La Porte High School) tossed 5 innings, allowing 4 hits, 2 earned runs and 2 walks, while striking out 7. Cody Nesbit (La Porte / La Porte High School), Jorge Fernandez (Del Rio / Del Rio High School), and Hudson Treu (Houston / Houston Christian High School) pitched the final 4 innings. Nesbit allowed 4 hits and 2 earned runs and was tagged with the loss.
San Jac finished the season as the Region XIV South Zone champions, the undefeated Region XIV champions, and national runner-up, with an overall record of 51-12 and 31-9 conference record. Arrington, in his 15th year as head coach, was named the Region XIV Coach of the Year for the 11th time.
About San Jacinto College
Surrounded by monuments of history, industries and maritime enterprises of today, and the space age of tomorrow, San Jacinto College has been serving the citizens of East Harris County, Texas, for more than 50 years. As an Achieving the Dream Leader College, San Jacinto College is committed to the goals and aspirations of a diverse population of approximately 30,000 credit students. The College offers 186 degrees and certificates, with 46 technical programs and a university transfer division. Students benefit from a support system that maps out a pathway for success, and job training programs that are renowned for meeting the needs of growing industries in the region. San Jacinto College graduates contribute nearly $690 million each year to the Texas workforce.