Author: Sports Editor

By MIKE MONTFORT   -- GRAND JUNCTION, Co. -- Navarro's magnificent, memorable march to the pinnacle of The Alpine Bank JUCO World Series ended Friday, but rewarded coach Matt Podjenski's Bulldogs with a third-place finish. In an elimination semifinal play-in game, ninth-ranked Iowa Western (52-10) reversed Thursday's result and run-ruled the Bulldogs in eight innings, 15-7. Coach Marc Rardin's Northern District Champion Reivers advanced to their fourth JUCO World Series Final and faced Central Arizona's Vaqueros  (49-20) for the title in Saturday's 7 pm MT contest at Sam Suplizio Field. Navarro, lightly regarded among Texas junior college baseball programs during the spring, concluded a 41-18 season that featured a magical run of 22 wins in their final 27 games (15 of 17 regular-season and 7 of 9 postseason).  The Region XIV Tournament Champion Bulldogs used an awesome power display with their searing bats and stormed their way to 103 runs over those final nine contests that included four run-ruled wins. During a week-long stay at Grand Junction, the Bulldogs hit .338, scored 61 runs and slugged 14 homers. On Friday, Iowa Western took charge early against the Bulldogs and freshman lefthanded starter Carson Rollins.  The Reivers chased Rollins after 1.1 innings, and took a comfortable 6-0...

BY MIKE MONTFORT  -- GRAND JUNCTION, Co -- Navarro's 23-8 run-ruled victory Thursday over tournament-unbeaten Iowa Western assured that The Alpine Bank JUCO World Series Championship Game will be played Saturday night. The Bulldogs (41-17/ 3-1) and the Reivers (51-10, 3-1) will meet again in a 7 pm MT Friday game, with the winner advancing to Saturday's 7 pm MT championship game against Central Arizona (49-20). Coach Matt Podjenski's Bulldogs are looking for Navarro's second NJCAA Division I Baseball Championship; Coach Marc Rardin's Reivers are seeking their fourth and Anthony Gilich's CAC Vaqueros will be bidding for their third JUCO World Series Championship. Navarro left little doubt Thursday that the JUCO World Series would extend to a possible Game 19 for all the three once-beaten teams. The Bulldogs dismantled the ninth-ranked Reivers in front of 8,762 fans on Challenger Night. Leadoff-hitting second baseman Esteban Cardoza-Oquendo went three-for-five, scored four and drove in five runs in the five-inning contest. Cardoza-Oquendo lacked only a home run for a potential cycle, but other teammates took care of that business. The Bulldogs parlayed home runs from Stacey Bailey, Jose Gonzalez, Jr., and Kyle Landers with a miserable performance from six Reiver pitchers that included 13 walks, 1 hit-batsmen and five wild...

By MIKE MONTFORT  -- GRAND JUNCTION, Co -- Navarro remains one of four teams standing Thursday as The Alpine Bank JUCO World Series reaches the semifinal stage. Coach Matt Podjenski's Bulldogs (40-17) plays ninth-ranked Northern District Champion Iowa Western (51-9) in Thursday's 7:30 pm MT game at Sam Suplizio Field. Navarro, one of three one-loss teams in the field, challenges the tournament unbeaten Reivers in the evening's feature game for the right to advance to a 7 pm MT Friday championship game. Thursday's 3 pm MT semifinal pairing features once-beatens Central Arizona (48-20) and third-ranked Walters State (54-10) in an elimination-bracket battle. Iowa Western dictated Thursday's pairings by rallying with eight unanswered runs to defeat WSCC's Senators, 11-8.  The Reivers scored four ninth-inning runs off Senators top relievers Kody Davidson and Gage Gillian, using consecutive pinch-hit singles from Jevon Smith and Jaden Rolffs to deliver the go-ahead runs. Central Arizona secured a 14-5 win over Southeastern District Champion Chattahoochee Valley and sent the Pirates home. The four semifinalist programs have combined for 39 JUCO World Series appearances, seven championships and 17 Top-4 finishes.    ...

BY MIKE MONTFORT  -- GRAND JUNCTION, CO. -- It was just what the doctor ordered. Coach Matt Podjenski's resilient Bulldogs showed no ill effects from Monday during their quick turnaround Tuesday against the 12th-ranked Cowley Tigers.  In a most efficient five innings, they produced 16 runs by hammering 14 hits, and they put minimal stress on their pitching staff in a five-inning, elimination-bracket game. As a result of Navarro's 16-5 run-rule win, the Bulldogs receive another precious day of rest Wednesday and will wait on one of three possible teams from the winners bracket to emerge as its 7:30 pm MT Thursday opponent. Navarro next will play either Central Arizona, ninth-ranked Iowa Western, or get a rematch with third-rated Walters State. On Tuesday, the all-business Bulldogs created their own afternoon fireworks display by hitting grand slams in consecutive innings, and, in the process, also homered back-to-back for the third time this tournament. Sophomore DH Jose Gonzalez, Jr., now hitting .700 through three JUCO games, went three-for-three at the plate, scored twice, slugged a grand slam and drove in five runs for NC. During a seven-run third inning, catcher Dawson Woods launched a grand slam, and leftfielder Kyle Hawkins followed with a solo shot -- very significant since...

By MIKE MONTFORT -- GRAND JUNCTION, CO -- Walters State freshman shortstop Michael Robinson knocked in two runs with a full-count, two-out, bases-loaded single as the Senators rallied from a four-run deficit in the final two innings for a 6-5 victory. Third-ranked Walters State (54-9) advances to a 7:30 pm MT Wednesday game against the winner of Tuesday's game between Central Arizona and Iowa Western. The crushing loss, in front of a Memorial Day crowd of 7,319 fans, sends Navarro into a 3 pm Tuesday MT elimination-bracket game against Cowley, Ks., (46-13) at Sam Suplizio Field. Single-season saves recordholder Pepper Jones suffered Monday's loss. In the Senators' ninth, leadoff hitting third baseman Drew Haynie singled on a 2-1 pitch to left and moved to second on Jerry Hammons' sacrifice bunt. First baseman Bryce Hodge struck out swinging on a 3-2 pitch for the second out. Jones carefully worked around left-handed, clean-up hitter Brayden Combs (13-76-2 / .376) and issued a four-pitch walk. No. 5 batter Braydon Runion (11-43-7 / .369), who hit a two-run homer during the Senators' three-run eighth inning, walked on 3-1 to load the bases. Robinson, who went 4-for-4 in Walters State's first-round win over Cowley, fell behind Jones in the count 1-2 and...