ROCKFORD, ILL. - A tournament that saw its top two seeds eliminated early ended with a repeat champion taking its first step towards trying to defend an even bigger crown. Oakton Community College earned its second consecutive championship at the Region IV Division III Baseball Tournament on Sunday, using a 10-7 win in the second of two championship games against Waubonsee Community College. The top-seeded Owls, who used their first-ever region crown in 2018 to spring-board themselves all the way to the NJCAA Division III National Championship, won five games over four days to complete the repeat.
Oakton Community College raced out to a 5-0 lead in the winner-take-all matchup, and then used a four-run sixth inning to go up 9-1. However, the Chiefs rallied with five runs of their own in the sixth before both teams added a run in the final two innings. Pitcher Luis Savigne got the win with six strong innings, much the same as he did three days prior in a win over Joliet Junior College, and was named the Region IV Tournament Most Valuable Player. Bill Fratto earned his second Region IV Coach of the Year honor.
The third-seeded Owls opened with a 19-2 drubbing of sixth-seeded Illinois Valley Community College (14-21) in Joliet, Illinois, and advanced to play the host and second-seeded Wolves. Oakton sent Joliet Junior College (22-23) to the loser's bracket - Joliet and top-seeded Rock Valley College both went 0-2 over the first two days of the tournament - with a 6-1 decision that sent them to the semifinals and the first of three meetings with Waubonsee Community College (30-23). Following a 10-2 win in the semifinals, the Owls then fell 6-5 to the Chiefs to set up the final showdown.
Oakton Community College (34-19) advances to and will host the NJCAA District B Championship Series on May 18-19 against Region XII winner Delta College (MI/28-24-1). The best-of-three series begins at 12pm in Des Plaines, Illinois, and the winner qualifies for the 2019 NJCAA Division III World Series in Greeneville, Tennessee, from May 25-May 30.
(Photo courtesy of Oakton Community College Athletics)