Madison, Oakton fall short of national title aspirations

(Photo courtesy of Madison College Athletics)
(Photo courtesy of Madison College Athletics)

Entering their respective NJCAA World Series, both the Madison College and Oakton Community College baseball teams had aspirations of claiming a national championship, however, both teams fell shy of their goals last week. The defending national champion Owls were eliminated after three games, while the WolfPack bowed out in a decisive second semifinal game, one win shy of reaching the championship game.

Madison College was making its eighth appearance this decade at the NJCAA Division II World Series in Enid, Oklahoma, and for the fourth time they reached the semifinal round but were unable to advance. The second-seeded WolfPack opened with a record-setting 21-14 win over #7-seeded Northeast Community College (NE/36-20) that established a new World Series record for combined runs. Next up was #3-seeded Mesa Community College (AZ/44-23), which owned a 3-1 lead entering the bottom of the ninth. After tying it up, the 'Pack eventually won in dramatic fashion as Nick Gile hit a walk-off home run in the 12th for a 4-3 victory. The Thunderbirds returned for another matchup in the semifinals and used a seven-run eighth inning to bust open a one-run game for an 11-3 decision that would force the two teams to play for a third straight day. The semifinal elimination game saw Madison College take a 3-1 lead, but another big inning proved to be costly in a season-ending 7-4 setback. Sophomores Gile and Jarrett Scheelk, both infielders, were named to the NJCAA DII World Series All-Tournament Team. Madison College finished with a 42-11 record.

With a target on their back as the reigning champs, #5-seeded Oakton Community College routed #4-seeded Herkimer Community College (NY/35-6-2) by an 11-2 count in seven innings in the NJCAA Division III World Series opener in Greeneville, Tennessee. One win away from the championship round of the eight-team tournament, the Owls were unable to keep pace with eventual national runner-up and top-seeded Rowan College at Gloucester County (NJ/42-11) as a four-run sixth inning proved to be the difference in a 12-7 setback. In an elimination game, Oakton Community College drew #6-seeded Century College (MN/38-12). The Owls fell behind early by a 5-0 count, before pulling within two entering the sixth. Century College plated six in the top half, but OCC responded with two in the bottom and five more in the seventh to trail 11-10. Four more runs by the Wood Ducks provided the final tally in a 15-10 score that ended the Owls season with a 37-22 record. Sophomore first baseman Dan Sullivan was named to the NJCAA DIII World Series All-Tournament Team.