LAKELAND, Fla. (May 17, 2018) - It took seven days but Chipola College emerged from the rain, as well as a deep pool of contenders, to win the NJCAA Gulf District/FCSAA State Baseball Tournament.
Extended to the "if" game by upstart Hillsborough Community College, Chipola won the final game of the tournament on Thursday, defeating the Hawks, 5-0, to punch its ticket the JUCO World Series, where the Indians will have the opportunity to defend their national championship.
A day earlier, Hillsborough won its fourth straight elimination game, defeating Chipola, 8-3, to extend the tournament to the final game. The Hawks lost to Santa Fe College, 9-1, in the opening round of the tournament before rattling off wins against Miami Dade College, Broward College and State College of Florida to move into the championship round against the Indians.
Chipola, meanwhile, picked up wins over Miami Dade, Santa Fe and State College of Florida to move into the driver's seat as the tournament's last remaining unbeaten team. The Indians picked up a second win over Santa Fe, which meant they had to lose twice in the championship round.
Chipola's Max Guzman was named the Bob Zelinski Most Valuable Player of the the Tournament while teammate Phillip Sanderson was named the Bob Perky Pitcher of the Tournament. Sanderson tossed a complete-game shutout in the final game against Hillsborough and picked up two wins in the tournament.
Guzman and Sanderson were joined on the all-tournament team by Collin Moore, Santa Fe; Tucker Rayburn, Tallahassee; Morgan McCollough, Chipola; Bryan Lavistida, Hillsborough; Andre Walden, Hillsborough; Brock Edge, Santa Fe; Jaren Shelby, State College of Florida; Jose Cadenas, Hillsborough; Edmond Americaan, Chipola; Austin Bates, Chipola; Javier Rosato, Hillsborough; Ryan Fernandez, Hillsborough and Trevor Holloway, Chipola.
Chipola's Jeff Johnson was named FCSAA Coach of the Year.