2019 JUCO World Series Preview: Experienced Mustangs Ready for National Championship Hunt


GRAND JUNCTION, Colo., May 21, 2019 – In 2018, the Monroe College Mustangs baseball team set a goal early on to reach its first-ever Junior College World Series, and the Mustangs did just that. Monroe claimed its first-ever Eastern District Championship last year, advancing to the Alpine Bank JUCO World Series in Grand Junction, Colo. In 2019, the Mustangs set a loftier goal, and with their return to the JUCO World Series, they are knocking on the door of their first-ever National Championship. THE TOURNAMENT The Field of 10 Check out the team profile pages for all 10 teams competing in the JUCO World Series by clicking each team's respective link below: Central: Cowley (KS) East Central: Walters State (TN) Eastern: Monroe (NY) Gulf: Chipola (FL) Northern: Iowa Western Southeastern: Chattahoochee Valley (AL) South Central: Connors State (OK) Southern: Navarro (TX) Southwestern: New Mexico JC Western: Central Arizona Learn more about the entire field from the JUCO World Series website at the link below: 2019 JUCO Field is Set The Games The tournament begins on Saturday, May 25, with the first four contests of the tournament at Sam Suplizio Field. The double-elimination tournament will culminate on either May 31 or June 1. Tournament Bracket Tournament Schedule Live Coverage JUCO World Series and the NJCAA will be providing live coverage for all tournament games: Live Video (via NJCAA.tv) Live Stats (via SIDEARM Sports) Live Audio (via The Team 1340AM) Social Media

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REPEATING HISTORY The Mustangs went a perfect 3-0 at the 2018 NJCAA Eastern District Championship Tournament at Dutchess Stadium in Wappingers Falls, N.Y., to claim their first district title. The Mustangs went a perfect 3-0 at the 2019 NJCAA Eastern District Championship Tournament at Harford Community College in Bel Air, Md., to claim their second district title. Both years, the Mustangs defeated Harford in the opening game, and had to defeat each team in the tournament once to win it all. Last year, Monroe College became the first team out of the State of New York to reach the JUCO World Series since Briarcliffe College qualified in 2000. This year, the Mustangs become the first team out of New York State to reach the JUCO World Series in back-to-back seasons since Briarcliffe College made it in both 1999 and 2000. Things will change for the Mustangs when they get to Grand Junction this week. Monroe went 1-2 last year at the JUCO World Series, bookending a victory over Jefferson College with a pair of defeats to San Jacinto College. This year, neither of those two teams will be joining the Mustangs in Grand Junction, setting them up to change the story in 2019. THE ROAD TO GRAND JUNCTION The Mustangs head to Grand Junction with a 32-17 overall record. After making its first-ever trip to the JUCO World Series last season, the Mustangs were not the only ones who set high expectations for themselves, as they entered the season as the No. 14-ranked team in the NJCAA, the program's highest national ranking of all time. With these high expectations also came an unprecedentedly challenging schedule for Monroe, including what was likely the earliest start to the season for any team in the northeast. The Mustangs opened their season on Feb. 9, nearly three weeks sooner than their 2018 opener. They spent the entire first month of the season traveling the country, visiting schools in Virginia, Louisiana, Texas, Maryland and South Carolina before finally returning to New Rochelle. Monroe scheduled some of the top teams out of the top regions in the nation to start their season, putting themselves at an immediate disadvantage because the Mustangs had yet to even step foot on an outdoor field in 2019. The combination of tough opponents, long travel and infrequent weather proved to be difficult to overcome for the Mustangs, whose challenging road trip resulted in a 1-11 start and a 4-14 record before their first game at home. While the team's record appeared worrisome, the Mustangs came home convinced that their difficult start to the season would eventually prove to be an invaluable experience that would help them in the end. Returning to the northeast brought a new spark to the Mustangs, who were determined to get their record back to where they expected it to be. The Mustangs won six straight games, but a trio of tough road trips with one home game in the middle resulted in a 2-4 run and left the Mustangs still six games under .500. Monroe won the final game of that road trip, and the momentum they carried from that point on is the momentum that got the Mustangs to the JUCO World Series. Monroe won five straight games before going 2-2 over the team's next four contests. The 12-6 loss at Mercer County Community College was the last time the Mustangs have lost this year. A four-game weekday series with ASA College got the Mustangs back on track, as they swept their Region XV rivals to claim the Region XV Regular-Season Title and put themselves over .500 for the first time in 2019. Monroe wrapped up the regular season with a. 9-1 win over SUNY Sullivan, getting the Mustangs ready for postseason play. After going 5-0 in the regular season against ASA, the Mustangs wrapped up the Region XV Championship Series with the Avengers as quickly as they could, picking up a 3-0 series sweep to win their fifth straight region title and return to the Eastern District Championship. The Mustangs were joined by Potomac State College of WVU, Spartanburg Methodist College, and host Harford Community College at the district championship tournament. The Mustangs drew the host Fighting Owls as their first-round opponent, a team that had lost just one game all season on its home turf, but that one loss came at the hands of the Mustangs. The Mustangs set the tone for the weekend immediately in their first game, rattling off 10 runs in the bottom of the first, leading to a 14-2, run-rule victory in five innings. The Mustangs' momentum never withered throughout the district championship tournament. A 1-1 tie in the fourth inning of Monroe's next game quickly turned into a 6-1 advantage for the Mustangs, and that was all they would need, as Brandon Backman went the complete nine innings to help Monroe advance to the championship game. After dropping its first game of the tournament, Spartanburg Methodist made a run to defeat Harford and Potomac State to make it to the championship game. The Pioneers took a 2-0 lead in the top of the second, but a three-RBI double by Gustavo Gonzalez in the bottom of the second put the Mustangs on top for good. They went on to score seven straight runs, eventually hanging on for an 8-3 victory to claim their second straight Eastern District Championship and return to the JUCO World Series. The Mustangs come into the World Series having won 18 of their last 20 games. For all information on the 2019 Alpine Bank Junior College World Series, visit the JUCO World Series headquarters at JUCOGJ.org. ABOUT THE ATHLETIC PROGRAM AT MON

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