By Nathaniel Frazi
GRAND JUNCTION, COLO—The dream season for the Wallace Govs finally came to an end Monday afternoon at the NJCAA World Series. The Crowder College Roughriders defeated the Govs 10-7 in an elimination game.
"We had our chances," Wallace coach Mackey Sasser. "But in the end, we just couldn't lay off (Aaron Ashby's) slider."
"Despite how this game ended, I am very proud of this team," Sasser said, whose Govs finished the year at 43-21. "We accomplished something that no other team in 50 years of Wallace baseball has ever done. This team will go down in history."
"This journey has been special for all of us," echoed assistant coach Phillip Hurst. "Of course it didn't end like we wanted it to, but when we look back on it, we accomplished a lot. We brought a bunch of kids together from different cities, different states, and even different countries. But now we are all family."
As for the game, the Govs fell behind by three runs after starter Jacinto Arredondo gave up one run in the first inning and two in the second. But just as the Govs did the previous day, the third inning turned out to be big.
Donnie Gleneski got things started when he led off with a single to left field. Philip Sieli followed, and he later scored on a wild pitch. Adrian Hernandez hit a single to right field, and he later scored on a sacrifice fly from Nick Lewis. Austin Garrett doubled, and he was brought home on an RBI single from Eric Rodriguez. That gave the Govs a 4-3 lead.
While the fourth inning was scoreless, both teams struck for two runs each in the fifth and one run each in the sixth. But what turned out to be the deciding factor in the game was the eighth inning.
With one out, Wallace reliever Devante Dixon gave up a solo home run to Kobe Morris. The left-handed hitting Morris poked the ball down the left field line—the shortest part of the field. It was only 305 feet to the corner, and the ball barely cleared the fence.
After getting the second out, Dixon hit Tyler Duncan, and then gave up an RBI double to Elvis Peralta. Kyle MacDonald was then intentionally walked to load the bases, but Luke Price made the Govs pay when he hit an RBI single to centerfield.
In came John Mason to pitch, but Mason quickly walked two batters, including Cameron Witt with the bases loaded. That gave the Roughriders their 10-7 lead.
Wallace didn't go quietly however. In the bottom of the eighth, the Govs had the bases loaded, meaning the tying run was on base. But the lefthanded throwing Ashby kept throwing a slider in the dirt that the Wallace batters could not pick up. He struck out Hernandez to end the inning.
The Govs loaded the bases again in the bottom of the ninth. This time Garrett singled, Lewis doubled, and Tyler Halas walked to load the bases. But Ashby struck out Joey Bend and Gleneski to end the game.
"I think this is just the start of a lot of good things for Wallace baseball," Sasser said. "We've got a lot freshman who have had a taste of this and they will want to be back. They should turn out to be some very good leaders for us."
"One thing I'd like to add," Hurst said. "It won't take us another 50 years to get back out here."