Hinds Community College, which has had a knack for getting on a roll this season, is on another. This latest one will carry the Eagles to the NJCAA Division II World Series. Hinds won its sixth straight postseason game on Saturday, beating No. 1-ranked Jones County JC 8-7 in Ellisville for the Region 23 championship. Freshman Will Pierce of Vicksburg knocked in the go-ahead run in the eighth inning of a classic title fight. Hinds, national runner-up in 2014, will make its sixth trip to the juco World Series. Sam Temple’s Eagles started this season 2-4 but then ripped off an eight-game win streak. After a few hiccups early in MACJC play, including two blowout losses to Jones, the Eagles won 13 of 15. They wobbled a bit at season’s end and finished 17-11 in the conference, drawing a best-of-3 playoff matchup against East Mississippi. They swept the Lions to make the Region 23 Tournament, where they faced No. 2-ranked LSU-Eunice in the first round. No worries. Hinds won 6-2, then bowled over Pearl River twice to reach the championship round against Jones. The defending national champion Bobcats had lost just three times all year and only once at home, to Pearl River in the first round of the regional. But the Bobcats could not slow Hinds’ roll. Next stop: Enid, Okla. P.S. Meanwhile, in Cleveland, Delta State rode the brilliant pitching of Tre Hobbs and Zach Osbon to a 4-1 win over Nova Southeastern, clinching a berth in the NCAA Division II South Region championship round on Monday. Hobbs, a left-hander from Greenville and Mississippi Delta CC, hasn’t had a great senior year after a dominant junior season that saw him go 13-2 and earn all kinds of honors. But he answered the call on Saturday, allowing just four hits over eight innings. Osbon, a lockdown closer all year, fanned the side in the ninth for the save. DSU is 43-11 and knocking on the door of another D-II World Series trip, which would be the fifth under coach Mike Kinnison.
Based on their numbers, the Scots of McHenry County College have fast legs and power arms. The team that Jones County Junior College will face in its opener Saturday in the NJCAA Division II World Series has swiped 140 bases in 57 games and rolls out three starting pitchers who average 10 or more strikeouts per game. McHenry, located in Illinois, is 44-13 and won the Region 4 championship to advance to Enid, Okla. JCJC, the Region 23 champ, is 49-8. This is the first World Series appearance for McHenry, the second for Jones. The Scots are led offensively by the speedy duo of Riley Richarz (35 steals, .406) and Nick Vasic (31, .413). Clay Brinkman (.373, six homers, 64 RBIs) and Brett Stratinsky (nine homers) supply some thunder. The pitching staff, which has a collective 3.42 ERA, features Andrew Reisinger (10-0), Jack Granath (8-0) and Reilly Peltier (7-2). Third-ranked Jones, which took out No. 1 LSU-Eunice and No. 10 East Central in its regional, can also run and pitch a little, among other things. Top players for the Bobcats are Mason Irby (.410, seven homers, 72 RBIs, 30 steals), Erick Hoard (.397, 17 HRs, 72 RBIs), Clint Sasser (.389, 47 steals), Mason Strickland (10-0, 2.85) and Calder Mikell (9-1). The 10-team World Series field includes No. 2-ranked Mercer County from New Jersey and No. 5 Sinclair of Ohio as well as teams from New York to North Carolina to Arizona.
Hinds Community College’s first-round foe in the NJCAA Division II World Series will be Lincoln Land CC of Illinois. The Loggers are 44-15 and ranked 11th in the nation. Forgive the Eagles if they shrugged at those numbers. After all, Hinds had to get through the Nos. 1 and 2 teams in the nation just to get to the 10-team national tournament, which begins Saturday in Enid, Okla. Hinds (35-19) beat top-ranked Jones County JC in the Region 23 title game at Ellisville last Saturday. Sam Temple’s Eagles, who also beat No. 2 LSU-Eunice (twice) in the regional, are in the Juco World Series for the fifth time but for the first time since 1999. This year marks the 25th anniversary of Hinds’ first World Series trip (see previous post). Casey Sutton, who beat Jones in the region finale to move to 8-2 for the year, is the Eagles’ likely starter in the opener. Austin Sanders notched his eighth save in the title game, and the Eagles got big hits from Casey Echols (son of former Mississippi State star Tracy Echols), Luke Reynolds and Caleb Upton.