The bats of the Navarro Bulldogs exploded on Thursday at Suplizio Field, tagging the Iowa Western Reivers 23-8 in a five-inning mercy in game 17 of the Alpine Bank JUCO World Series.
The Bulldogs (41-17) scored in every inning Thursday, tallying eight runs in the 4th inning and another six runs in the 5th. Navarro’s lead-off hitter, second baseman Esteban Cardoza-Oque finished 3-for-5 with 5 RBIs.
Designated hitter Jose Gonzalez Jr. hit his fifth home run of the tournament Thursday in the win, also finishing with 5 RBIs on the night.
With Iowa Western’s loss, there are no more undefeated teams in the JUCO World Series. The tournament will move to an extended, 19-game format with the Bulldogs and Reivers playing in a rematch Friday at 7:00 p.m.
In the first game of Thursday, the Central Arizona Vaqueros (49-20) survived a late-inning rally by Walters State (54-11), eliminating the Senators 12-5 in 10 innings.
Vaqs starter Dakota Donovan was stellar once again in his second start of the JUCO World Series. Dakota was pulled after 8+ innings of work, throwing 11 strikeouts, only allowing four earned runs on 10 hits and one walk.
The Senators, thanks to home runs by Alex Bibb and Drew Haynie, drew even in the bottom of the 9th inning. Walters State was down to their last strike when Haynie cleared the center field fence for a game-tying, solo home run.
The Vaqueros responded with seven runs of their own in the top of the 10th, a lead Walters State was unable to recover.
Central Arizona returns to the national championship game for the first time since the 2011 season. They await the winner of Friday’s matchup between Navarro and Iowa Western. The winner will face the Vaqs Saturday at 7:00 p.m. from Suplizio Field.