GRAND JUNCTION, Co. — Navarro remains one of four teams standing Thursday as The Alpine Bank JUCO World Series reaches the semifinal stage.
Coach Matt Podjenski’s Bulldogs (40-17) play ninth-ranked Northern District Champion Iowa Western (51-9) in Thursday’s 7:30 pm MT game at Sam Suplizio Field.
Navarro, one of three one-loss teams in the field, challenges the tournament unbeaten Reivers in the evening’s feature game for the right to advance to a 7 pm MT Friday championship game.
Thursday’s 3 pm MT semifinal pairing features once-beatens Central Arizona (48-20) and third-ranked Walters State (54-10) in an elimination-bracket battle.
Iowa Western dictated Thursday’s pairings by rallying with eight unanswered runs to defeat WSCC’s Senators, 11-8. The Reivers scored four ninth-inning runs off Senators top relievers Kody Davidson and Gage Gillian, using consecutive pinch-hit singles from Jevon Smith and Jaden Rolffs to deliver the go-ahead runs.
The Bulldogs are hitting .379 over their three games and have scored 31 runs since arriving in Grand Junction. Jose Gonzalez is having a remarkable week, including tying a JUCO World Series record with a three-home run game in Navarro's opening 10-6 victory over Chipola. The Bulldogs hit five homers in that game.
Gonzalez is hitting .800 (8-for-10) over the three game stretch and he has belted four home runs, including a grand slam in Navarro's 16-5 win over Cowley Tuesday. He has driven in nine runs.
But Gonzalez is not alone. Several Bulldogs are putting up impressive numbers at the plate.
Stacey Bailey is hitting .444 (4-for-9) with a home run and five RBIs and Dawson Woods has belted two home runs, including a grand slam against Cowley. Woods is hitting .300 (3-for-10) and has driven in five runs.
Cash Rugely is hitting .363, and he has hit two home runs and driven in four runs.
The Bulldogs are one win away from the championship game and part of an impressive field. The four semifinalist programs have combined for 39 JUCO World Series appearances, seven championships and 17 Top-4 finishes.