The McLennan Highlanders' incredible 2017 season came to an end with a 19-11 loss to the Chipola Indians at the JUCO World Series in Grand Junction, Colorado. The Highlanders finish the season with an overall record of 52-13 and a fifth-place finish in the nation.
Jason Blanchard got the start for the Highlanders and took the loss on the mound.
McLennan jumped out to an early lead, scoring three runs in the top of the second inning. Griffin Paxton singled and Cole Haring drew a walk. George Callil followed with a single to score Paxton. Joe Breaux singled to score Haring, and Callil scored on a single by Josh Breaux.
Chipola got on the board with five runs in the bottom of the second. Reynaldo Rivera and Max Guzman both singled. Brody Wofford followed with a fielder's choice, putting Guzman out at second. Te'Kwaan Whyte walked to load the bases. Trey Dawson then doubled to score Rivera, Wofford and Whyte. Jose Caballero followed with a two-run homer.
The Highlanders added a run in the third as Paxton walked, moved around to third on a double by Haring and scored on a ground out by Chase Sortor.
The Indians added two runs in the bottom of the third as Rivera singled and scored on a Guzman home run.
Chipola extended its lead with five runs in the fourth. Chris Clayton led off with a double and Dawson walked. Jacob Silverstein followed with a single to score Clayton and Dawson. Andrew Bechtold singled and Rivera hit a three-run home run.
Three more Indian runs scored in the sixth as Silverstein and Bechtold both singled and scored on another Rivera three-run homer.
McLennan never gave up and began to get back into the game with three runs in the top of the seventh. Pinch hitter Nick Thornquist led off with a solo home run. Joe Breaux then singled and scored on another two-run homer by Josh Breaux.
Chipola sealed the run-rule victory with four runs in the bottom of the eighth. Whyte walked, and Clayton and Dawson were both hit by the pitch to load the bases. Caballero followed with a grand slam.
"I give Chipola a whole lot of credit. They are an incredibly physical, incredibly talented team; probably as talented if not more talented than any other team in the country. They came to play," head coach Mitch Thompson said. "I love my club; I love the way they compete; I love the way they never say die. We were down to our last strike and we continued to come back and try to get in the game. At the end of the day, we just didn't pitch well enough to give ourselves a chance to really win the game."
"I've been doing this for 27 years in college coaching and I've never been a part of a team that's won 52 games. I've been part of three Division I College World Series teams and this is the second team that we've brought to the Junior College World Series, and I've never been part of a team that won 52 games. That's the best it has been for me and any team I've been associated with. I'm going to remember 52 and I'm going to remember how the leaders of this team, Chris Roller, Joe Breaux, Nic Motley, and Brendan Venter, led this ball club. That's how I'm going to remember these guys."
"We finished fifth in the country and they made a 3.40 team GPA; that doesn't happen at very many places. These guys are going to be winners. I think everybody that had a chance to see them play will enjoy watching the rest of their careers wherever they go to play college and professional baseball and will be able to say 'I remember when he was here at McLennan playing at JUCO.'"
"I push on these kids and push on them and push on them some more, and challenge them, and sometimes I probably don't challenge them the right way. At the end of the day, I hope they know that I love them and will do anything I can for them and that goes for the next 25-30 years."
Chipola 19, McLennan 11
McLennan 031 200 32 – 11 17 0
Chipola 052 503 04 – 19 17 1
Jason Blanchard, Logan Freeman (4), Hunter Spaeth (6), Brady Childress (7), Josh Breaux (8) and Nic Motley, Nick Thornquist (7). Andrew Grogan, Riley Cabral (2), Ryan Shauger (4), Robbie Knox (8), Junior Harding (8) and Chris Clayton. WP: Shauger; LP: Blanchard. Leading hitters – McLennan: Joe Breaux (3-5, RBI), Josh Breaux (3-5, 2 HR, 4 RBI), Cole Haring (2-3, 2B, HR, 2 RBI), Chase Sortor (0-2, RBI), Nick Thornquist (2-2, 2B, HR, RBI), George Callil (1-3, RBI); Chipola: Jose Caballero (4-6, 2B, 2 HR, 6 RBI), Jacob Silverstein (2-5, 2 RBI), Andrew Bechtold (2-4), Reynaldo Rivera (4-5, 2 HR, 6 RBI), Max Guzman (2-4, HR, 2 RBI), Chris Clayton (2-4, 2B) and Trey Dawson (1-3, 2B, 3 RBI).