Everything was shaping up perfectly for a dramatic showdown between the top two teams in junior-college baseball, No. 1-ranked San Jacinto (Texas) and No. 2-ranked Southern Nevada. But someone forgot to tell upstart Iowa Western that it wasn't invited to the party.
In a stunning upset, the Reivers (50-12) became the first Northern school to win the Junior College World Series, beating CSN 9-8 to reach the final, then dismantling San Jac, 10-4 and 5-4, in consecutive games to win the 2010 title. With the series of stunning triumphs, Iowa Western ascended to the No. 1 spot in Perfect Game's final ranking of the nation's top 50 junior-college teams. San Jacinto (52-12) fell to No. 2, while Southern Nevada (52-16) slipped to No. 4.
The Gators and Coyotes were ranked 1-2 to start the 2010 season, and maintained those rankings as they entered the Junior College World Series. They were the last two undefeated teams in the 10-team tournament, but CSN's fortunes turned when star catcher Bryce Harper was ejected from his team's game against San Jac for disputing a called third strike. Since he was ejected from an earlier game this season, Harper was required to sit out his team's game against Iowa Western, and the Reivers pulled out a 9-8 win, eliminating Southern Nevada in stunning fashion.
Still unbeaten San Jacinto just had to beat Iowa Western once to secure its seventh national title, but it amazingly lost twice. The Gators' outstanding pitching staff even failed to hold a 4-3 lead with two out and none on in the bottom of the eighth of the second championship game, with tournament MVP Ivan Hartle scoring the winning run on a single by freshman shortstop Brian Bass. Hartle hit .400, scored 10 runs and had six RBIs as the Reivers leadoff hitter. He also homered in his first at-bat in both his team's first two games.
Amazingly, both San Jacinto and Southern Nevada had nine players apiece selected in the 2010 draft, held two days after the championship game. One of those draft picks was obviously the much-heralded Harper. Iowa Western had no players drafted, not even Hartle, a Canadian who played a pivotal two-way role for the Reivers. He committed only three errors all season at second base. He plans to transfer to Western Kentucky for the 2011 season.
California JC champion Ohlone moved to No. 3 in the final rankings, while Washington's Lower Columbia, the Northwest Athletic Association of Community Colleges champion, checked in at No. 5. California and Washington schools are not members of the National Junior College Athletic Association, and do not participate in the Junioir College World Series. The NJCAA Division II champion, LSU-Eunice, finished at No. 6.
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