After 14 years of “almost” and “so close”, the Pirates were on the verge of making return trips to the NJCAA JUCO World Series. Undefeated and in the winners bracket of the semi-finals, the Pirates had a tough test in a quality opponent in Faulkner State. Coach Thomas turned unsung hero and tournament savior, Logan Haner, to stymie the Sun Chief’s potent offense and Johnny JUCO didn’t disappoint.
With Haner making only his second start of the season, he looked like the pre-surgery version of himself in a dominating, complete game effort. Logan “Johnny JUCO” Haner tossed 5 complete innings in the 14-0 mercy rule game, in which he scattered 5 hits, struck out 4 and walked none.
The Pirate offense picked up where it left off with Shelton, jumping on top 7-0 after only 2 innings of play, with 2 in the first and a 5 spot in the second. Tyler Lynn and Ryan Hagan began the hit parade as they drove in the first 2 runs in the first. The second inning exploded with 2 out and only 1 man on, as consecutive doubles by Nolan Greckel and a single by Tyler Lynn led to 4 consecutive free passes that essentially put the game away early.
At that point, Haner did not allow a runner past second base the rest of the night, and only allowed one guy to reach 2nd. With Haner shutting ’em down, the offense kept scoring, as they scored 4 more in the 3rd, with the help of the free pass and some timely hitting by Ford and Brandon Whiteford to up the tally to 11-0.
For good measure, the Pirates put 3 insurance runs on the board in the 4th, with the big hits coming from Jake Maziar’s 2 run single and another Whiteford RBI single to put Chatt Valley on top 14-0.
The Chiefs brief moment of a potential rally in the 5th was quickly stymied by a game ending 5U-3 double play to Ryan Hagan to send the Pirates to the ACCC Championship game.
After rolling off 3 consecutive tournament wins, the Pirates would face old rival, and Northern Division Powerhouse, Wallace State-Hanceville for the right to head to Grand Junction, Colorado for the JUCO World Series. The win ran the Pirates’ record to 40-15, which allowed them to eclipse the 40 win mark for the third consecutive season.