Texas’ San Jacinto JC, which has made more appearances in the Junior College World Series than any school, became the first team to advance to this year’s national tournament by capturing the Region XIV title Tuesday night with a 15-3 win over Texarkana (Texas) JC. The Gators (43-9), ranked No. 2 in PG Crosschecker’s Top 50 rankings, went undefeated in winning the eight-team regional.
San Jac has been the JUCO World Series, scheduled this year from May 23-30 in Grand Junction, Colo., 17 times in all and won five championships over a six-year period from 1985-90.
As many as three other teams are expected to punch their ticket to Grand Junction later today, including No. 1-ranked and undefeated Howard (Texas) JC, the 1991 national champion. The Hawks advanced to the Region V final Tuesday night by stretching their amazing winning streak to a record 57 games with an 11-3 win over Temple (Texas) JC. The team that comes out of the loser’s bracket today would have to beat the Hawks twice.
The Hawks broke the record for most wins in a row (55, by Seminole State, Okla., in 1987) by a junior-college team earlier in the tournament and could become the fourth junior-college team in history to enter the national tournament with an undefeated record. The others were Monroe (N.Y.) CC at 27-0 in 1989, Normandale (Minn.) at 12-0 in 1980 and St. Louis-Meramec at 25-0 in 1970, but none of those teams won championships. The heavy-hitting Hawks, who took a .441 team batting average into regional play, could have as many as 8-10 players selected in next month’s baseball draft.
The Florida junior-college state tournament (Region VIII) could have produced a champion and Grand Junction-bound team Tuesday night, but the championship game between 2007 national champion and No. 47 Chipola, and No. 50 Santa Fe was suspended in the fourth inning because of rain. It was scheduled to be resumed at 11 a.m. today. Both clubs are surprise finalists as No. 5 Miami-Dade, No. 9 Tallahassee and No. 21 Manatee were eliminated earlier in the tournament.
A fourth entry in the 10-team national tournament will come from the winner-take-all game tonight between two Kansas teams (Region VI), No. 28 Cowley County and unranked Seward County.
The six other teams will be determined by this weekend, either in district championship tournaments, or upon conclusion of the Alabama state tournament (Region XXII), which is currently in progress. Among teams that have been eliminated along the way are No. 3-ranked Walters State (Tenn.), which was upset in the Tennessee state tournament, and No. 4 Yavapai (Ariz.), which was beaten by No. 11 Central Arizona in a best-of-3 Arizona final.
Meanwhile, the second round of the California state championship tournament will be played this weekend. The four surviving teams from an original field of 36 will move on to the state Final Four in Fresno from May 23-26. No. 6 Ohlone, No. 12 Palomar, No. 13 Orange Coast, No. 14 Santa Ana and No. 17 Feather River are all among the teams that have moved on after winning best-of-3 first-round series. California schools are not members of the National Junior College Athletic Association, and do not participate in the Junior College World Series.
PG Crosschecker will await the conclusion of today’s play to update its newest Top 50 junior-college rankings, and they should be posted on the Perfect Game website Thursday morning. We’ll also unveil updated rankings of the nation’s Top 100 junior-college prospects for the 2009 draft early next week as part of our extensive pre-draft coverage.