COUNCIL BLUFFS, IOWA
The Reivers are headed back to Grand Junction, Colorado. After sweeping their way through the Region XI Tournament, Head Coach Marc Rardin's squad did it again over the weekend. The Reivers played host to the Northern District Tournament at Doc Ross Field over the weekend and the home fans were not disappointed. Region IV Champion Triton and Region XXIV co-champs Olney Central and 7th ranked Wabash Valley came to town, all with their sights set on a trip to the JUCO World Series in Grand Junction, Colorado.
Wabash Valley easily won game 1 of the tournament over Triton and then, it was the Indigo Diaz show. The Sophomore right-hander plowed through Olney Central's line-up, racking up 14 strikeouts and allowing only 1 hit in an 8-0 8-inning complete game effort. The Michigan State commit picked up his 11th win of the year to help extend Iowa Western's winning streak to 33 games. 1st baseman Ryan Sullivan was 2-3, while Designated Hitter Ronald Sweeny drove in a pair along with Shortstop Kobe Hyland, the latter picking up his RBIs on a 2-run triple that ended the game due to run rule in the bottom of the 8th.
Day 2 saw cooler temperatures and some rain, but the weather cooperated after early morning showers. Olney Central broke out the bats to eliminate Triton 11-2 in the day's first action, leading the way for an NJCAA Top-10 showdown between the 2nd ranked Reivers and number 7 Wabash Valley. Iowa Western struck quickly, scoring 2 in the first after miscues by the Warriors and added 3 more in the Bottom of the 2nd on a Ronald Sweeny 3-run homer. Team 44 added 1 more in the 3rd and it was more than starter Sean Chandler would need. The Tulane signee threw 8 strong innings, striking out 12, allowing 1 run on 5 hits to earn his 11th win of the season. Jordan Bonk closed it out for the Reivers in a 6-1 victory that advanced them to the Championship series the next day. Wabash Valley was then eliminated by Olney Central 4-3 in an exciting win for the Blue Knights in their first ever Northern District Tournament.
The Tournament's final day brought more cool weather and showers with the Reivers needing only 1 win to advance to Grand Junction, Colorado. Head Coach Marc Rardin sent Ben Dotzler to the hill to start what would be the clincher for Iowa Western. Batting as the vistors, Iowa Western pounded out 6 runs in the games first 3 innings, Sophomore IF Breyden Eckhout provided the exclamation mark on the early outburst, with a 3-run, 2-out double. Olney Central answered for 3 runs in the bottom of the 3rd to half the score, but the Reivers exploded for 6 more in the Top of the 4th to double their runs and extend the lead to 9. Nearly every available Reiver position player saw action in the game, a 19-3 victory, with Eckhout's 5 RBI leading the charge. Sophomore Centerfielder Tyler Reichenborn reached base 6 times on a 4-4 day, scoring 3 of Iowa Western's runs. Dotzler (6-0) earned the win with Sophomores Parker Shreve and Keaton Winn also seeing action out of the bullpen. Winn struck out 7 Blue Knights' batters in only 3 innings of work.
The District Title marks the 18th appearance at the JUCO World Series for Iowa Western and 11th in the last 14 seasons. The Reivers will put their 35-game win streak on the line when they take on Chattahoochee Valley out of Phenix City, Alabama at 1:00 pm Central on Saturday, May 26th. All of the action will be carried by the Reiver Sports Network on 89.7 FM (The River) and online at http://www.897theriver.com/stream.asp with the voice of the Reivers, Jake Ryan and Travis Jacobson on the call. Highlights will be provided by Iowa Western Television. The bracket for the 61st JUCO World Series can be found here: http://www.jucogj.org/documents/2018/3/7/2018_JUCO_Bracket.pdf