Johnson County Community College
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Cavaliers World Series bound
Cavaliers World Series bound
OVERLAND PARK, Kan. – The Johnson County Community College baseball team (50-12) claimed the NJCAA Region VI Championship title on May 14 after defeating Kansas City Kansas Community College 2-0 in the title game. The victory punched the Cavaliers' ticket to the NJCAA World Series May 24-31, in Grand Junction, Colo. This is the program’s second appearance in the World Series. The first time the Cavaliers reached Grand Junction was in 2008.
Johnson County didn’t pick the easy road to win the title. The number-one-seed Cavaliers lost the opener to KCK 3-2, dropping them into the loser’s side of the bracket. Johnson County had to win six games in a span of four days to capture the program’s seventh region championship.
Facing elimination each time, the Cavaliers defeated Coffeyville 10-6, Hutchinson 14-8, Garden City 3-1 and Cowley 8-7 in 12 innings to set up a rematch with KCK.
JCCC would need to defeat the Blue Devils in back-to-back games, and in the first must-win game, the Cavaliers exploded for five runs in the bottom of the fourth and cruised to an 8-1 victory.
Sophomore left-hander Aaron Schnurbusch avenged his team’s first round loss to KCK, as he allowed just one run and struck out seven to earn his 12th win of the year. He also helped his own cause at the plate, going 3-for-4 with two RBI.
“I told the guys, to relax and play their game,” said head coach Kent Shelley. “We knew we were the best team. We knew we had the pitching, defense and hitting to win this tournament. I also felt if we got the championship game, we would win. We had all the momentum going in the final and all the pressure switched from our dugout to their dugout.”
In the deciding game, the JCCC offense managed to squeeze across two runs while freshman right-hander Dalton Gulick and sophomore right-hander Connor Miller combined to no-hit the Blue Devils, Gulick earned the start and pitched the first 2 1/3 innings, before handing the ball to Miller for the final 6 2/3 innings.
Miller said he had not come in as a reliever much at this season, so his plan was to throw strikes and let his defense work for him, and he was dead on. He fanned 10 of the 19 batters he faced, and did not allow a walk.
“I had a lot of confidence out there, and nothing was going to stop me that day.” Miller said.
The Cavaliers are scheduled to play Midland (40-23) at noon MDT on May 24.
For Schnurbusch and the other seven returning sophomores this year, making it to the World Series is a bitter sweat way to conclude their Johnson County careers. This group finished a disappointing 21-29 as freshmen, marking the first time since 2006 the program had finished with fewer than 30 wins.
“We wanted to get the program back to its winning ways,” Schnurbusch said. “We are pumped we get to enjoy this experience.”