MT. CARMEL, IL
Go ahead and book your hotel rooms for another Memorial Day Weekend in Grand Junction, Colorado, the Reivers are headed back to the JUCO World Series!
A late-inning surge pushed the Reivers past Wabash Valley, the top-ranked team in the country, for a 10-5 tournament clincher. The teams had split the 2 previous games of the Northern District Tournament, with Coach Rardin's squad topping the Warriors on Saturday 8-7 and Wabash coming from behind in Monday's first game to win 11-8. That game forced a winner take all finale with the winner grabbing the title and the final spot in this weekend's JUCO World Series at Sam Suplizio Field in Colorado.
The Reivers struck first on a 2-run homer by Sophomore Gibson Krzeminski in the 1st inning. The blast scored first-baseman Ronald Sweeny, who had singled with 2-out in the inning.
Wabash rallied back for the lead in the bottom half of the 2nd after Noah Myers cleared the bases with a 3-run double after three walks loaded the bases.
IWCC would rally back to tie it in the top half of the 3rd when Krzeminski singled to score Caleb Balgaard who had been hit by a pitch.
The score remained tied until the 5th when Freshman Shortstop Cooper Bowman doubled to start the Reivers' half of the 5th. Two batters later he cruised into score on a Ronald Sweeny single to put Iowa Western up 4-3 after 4 1/2 innings.
A Reiver lead was short lived however, Wabash Valley rallied to tie it on a sac fly to centerfield by Miguel Rivera that scored Brian Fuentes to knot the score again, this time at 4.
As tension continued to mount in both dugouts, it would be free bases that proved the difference. Ross Indlecoffer was plunked to lead off the 7th inning before a pitching change finally chased Warriors starter Ryan O'Connell. New WVC pitcher Burrell Jones promptly hit Mason Speirs to put a pair of Reivers on for Bowman. The Reiver shortstop slashed a double through a drawn-in infield to plate Indlecoffer for a 1-run lead. IWCC would add another on a Wabash Valley wild pitch for a 2-run advantage after 6 1/2.
In the 9th, the Reivers broke through again. Bowman walked to lead off the inning before being sacrificed to 2nd by Balgaard and moving to 3rd on a wild pitch. Sweeny then worked a walk before Krzeminski struck out swinging for the 2nd out of the inning. Isaiah Peterson became the 4th Reiver hit by a pitch in the game to load the bases with 2 away and Greg Bennett at the plate. Bennett hit a sharp ground ball to the shortstop and reached on an error, allowing both Bowman and Sweeny to score to increase the lead to four at 8 to 4. After a Colin Kasperbauer walk, it was Indlecoffer who added the final tally for the Reivers on a 2-run single to plate both Peterson and Bennett.
With the lead at 10-4, Kimmel met a touch of trouble in the 9th before inducing a 6-4-3 double play to lock up a 10-5 win and the Reivers 19th trip to Grand Junction for the JUCO World Series. It's the Reivers 2nd straight appearance and the 5th time in the last 6 years that they'll make the trek from Council Bluffs through the Rockies to the Western Slope.
As the last team to qualify, it's appropriate that the Reivers will play in the final opening round game, an 11:00 AM (CST) start on Sunday against South Central District winner Connors State out of Warner, Oklahoma.
You can hear all the action on the campus radio station, 89.7 the River, or log on to JucoGJ.org and watch the live video webstream provided by the NJCAA.
Follow @ReiverBaseball on Twitter for live action and more from the Reivers trip to the Division 1 World Series.