Texas’ Howard College went 57-0 to both open the 2009 season and close within a game of a berth in the Junior College World Series. But the Hawks saw their unbeaten season fall Wednesday night, and they watched a potential dream season almost crumble altogether Thursday afternoon in the Region 5 championship game.
After losing 8-2 to Temple (Texas) JC in the first championship game as their record losing streak came to an end, the Hawks were on the brink of a second straight loss to Temple and elimination in the deciding game of the double-elimination tournament, before rallying to win 4-3 in 10 innings.
The Hawks trailed 3-2 going to the top of the ninth, but got a game-tying home run from freshman outfielder Joe Leftridge to knot the game 3-3, and then survived a one-out, bases-loaded jam in the bottom of the ninth by getting an inning-ending double play. They pulled out the game in the top of the 10th on a run-scoring double by sophomore outfielder Runey Davis.
With the narrow win, top-ranked Howard became the second Texas team to qualify for the 10-team Junior College World Series, scheduled for May 23-30 in Grand Junction., Colo. No. 2 San Jacinto qualified Tuesday, while Santa Fe (Fla.) and Cowley County (Kan.) earned berths Wednesday.
The six other teams will be determined by this weekend, either in district championship tournaments, or upon conclusion of the rain-plagued Alabama state tournament (Region 22).
PG Crosschecker will update its newest Top 50 junior-college rankings today, and they should be posted on the Perfect Game website tonight. 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.