Grand Junction, Col.--(WSBB) Walters State’s five-year wait to take the field at Sam Suplizio Field once again will end Saturday afternoon when they open play in the third game of the 2013 Alpine Bank JUCO World Series in Grand Junction.
The Senators, ranked No. 7 in the latest NJCAA national poll released Wednesday, will face a tall but familiar task in their opening game, as they take on No. 1 Spartanburg Methodist (45-13) at 5 p.m. Eastern.
Walters State (37-16) plays the Pioneers every year in a doubleheader in March, and the two teams split this season on March 29 in South Carolina.
The Senators got the best of Spartanburg Methodist in the opener, as Tyler Brosius was sensational on the mound in a 5-3 victory. The second game of the twinbill went to Spartanburg, as they allowed a first inning run but nothing else in a 4-1 win.
Walters State will not be intimidated by the Pioneers, despite their No. 1 ranking and 14-game winning streak coming into the tournament.
“Our kids have seen Spartanburg earlier this season, and our sophomores have played four games against them, so they are pretty familiar with what they can do,” Senators coach Ken Campbell said. “The biggest thing right now is making sure they aren’t nervous being out there on the field in front of thousands of fans.”
A bigger crowd is something Walters State is not used to playing in front of, but the Senators will have a huge following in Grand Junction. Since their first trip to the World Series under Campbell in 2003, WSCC has seen a sea of red in the stands at each of their games. Campbell expects that again on Saturday.
“The fans out here are great, and they really have gotten behind our team in the past,” Campbell said. “I would expect that to be the same this year, especially since we haven’t been there in five years. Several people associated with the team and the school received messages when we qualified saying they were breaking out their Walters State shirts and hats this week, so we are excited to get out there and play in front of familiar faces.”
The Pioneers will enter Saturday’s game with a .314 batting average as a team and a .410 on base percentage, but they will face a tough challenge in Senators starting pitcher Taylor Patterson, who was still hitting mid 90s on his fastball in the ninth inning against Columbia State in last week’s NJCAA East Central District tournament.
“Taylor had great stuff after a couple of tough innings to start the game,” Campbell said. “If he throws like that, he is usually tough to beat. If he has that stuff Saturday, he will give us a chance to win, but we know we will be facing a pretty good pitching staff as well.”
Spartanburg Methodist could go with Chris Washington (7-2, 2.45), Jimmy Lindberg (6-2, 3.34) or Dylan Rodgers (6-1, 2.57) on the mound, with either option matching up equally with Patterson.
The winner of the contest Saturday will take on the winner between No. 2 Navarro (39-15) and No. 3 Connors State (52-9) on Monday at 4 p.m. Eastern, with the winner of that game being assured a top five finish. Saturday’s loser will face the loser of Navarro-Connors State at 4 p.m. Sunday in an elimination game.
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