Last weekend at the NJCAA Division I Junior College World Series in Grand Junction, Colo, fifth-rated Iowa Western and No. 1 San Jacinto, a five-time national champion, were the final two teams standing. With one loss in the event, the Reivers needed to beat unbeaten San Jacinto twice to secure their first national baseball title.
"We’re playing a bunch of Texas kids, which is the hotbed of baseball. It was David vs. Goliath,’’ Iowa Western coach Marc Rardin said. "And I told my guys, I was like, ‘We’re not even supposed to be here. We’re the token Northern District team.’’’
The Northern District consists of the two Illinois regions and the Iowa region. A Northern District school had never won a juco world series. But the Reivers, whose players hail primarily from cold-weather states, beat San Jacinto 10-4 on Friday, setting up a winner-take-all game on Saturday.
Trailing 4-3 heading to the bottom of the eighth, Iowa Western rallied for two runs and then slammed the door in the ninth.
One year after going 0-2 at the national tournament and losing both games by the 10-run rule (16-6 and 11-0), the Reivers were sprinting out to form the first Northern District dogpile in juco baseball history.
After starting the season 7-8, they won 44 of their final 48. . . .