RCC’s exciting run comes to end in Final Four round of NJCAA World Series
GREENVILLE, TENN. – The RCC Eagles baseball team’s strong late season run came to an abrupt halt after a 14-1 loss to Rowan Gloucester in the Final Four round of the NJCAA World Series on Tuesday.
It wasn’t the end the Eagle’s had hoped for, but after winning two of the four games played during the series, which included a 9-1 victory over No. 1 seed Herkimer on Saturday, and a 7-6 win over St. Cloud Tech on Monday. The two victories in four games as one of the nation’s top eight NJCAA teams is not too shabby for the team based out of small-town Wentworth, USA.
RCC ended up finishing in fourth place in the weekend series, which was the first appearance in the program’s history.
“Overall we went up there and competed. In the games that we won, we knocked off the No. 1 seed and then we got pushed back because of the rain and that set us back, but I think we won the games we were supposed to. I think we could have played a little better in the games that we lost, but overall it was a great success,” RCC head baseball coach Reece Honeycutt said.
The coach said he hopes the regional success the team experienced this season, and the national exposure gained compliments of making it to the World Series, will boost his programs profile given that Eagles were one of the elite last four teams standing. He now knows that everyone will have RCC on their radar in the future.
“I think it is going to put a big ‘ole X on our backs for next year,” he said.
But that is not necessarily a bad thing because he wants the Eagles program to continue to build upon the success they had in 2018. The more that people know about RCC, the better the recruiting will progress in the future Honeycutt believes.
Although, RCC will be losing the majority of their starting pitching rotation, the coach says he thinks the Eagles will be a strong contender in 2019.
“I think we are going to be just as good because we lost just three sophomore starters - our left fielder, our second baseman and our first baseman. Everybody else that was on the field this year were freshman. So we’ve got a big core group coming back. But we’ve lost six or seven sophomore arms. We’ve got a good crop of freshmen coming in on the mound. So we’ve got to get it done with our pitching next year. That’s where we are going to have to step up.”
“We’ve also recruited a couple of freshmen like Walker Joyce. He won the first game at the World Series. We’ve got him coming back, so we are in a pretty good spot. We are just going to have those guys coming step up and fill those innings up,” Honeycutt said.
The coach said recruiting has basically become a year-round endeavor. And with 17 freshmen coming in, Honeycutt and his staff’s focus shifts to transfers.
“This time of year, you get guys leaving four year schools or JUCOs (junior colleges) and now is the time when guys are looking around for a home, so we are going to have to get on some of these transfers and get some of these arms in,” Honeycutt said.
Rockingham 7, St. Cloud Tech 6
Trailing 5-1 heading into the bottom of the sixth inning, RCC’s offense exploded, plating six runs to take the 7-5 lead heading into the seventh.
St. Cloud, cut it to 7-6, but the Eagle’s defense shut the door with the final out to seal the victory.
Chayce Aldridge and Walker Joyce each had a pair of hits and two RBIs while Blake Cleverly drove in another run to pace RCC’s offense.
Former Reidsville Rams pitcher Cejay Chaporro picked up the win on the mound for the Eagles. He pitched six innings and gave up five runs while walking three in six innings of work. Chase Revier picked up the save closing out the final inning to lock up the victory.
After knocking off No. 1 seed Herkimer by a 9-1 margin on Saturday, RCC tripped up in a 12-2 loss to No. 4 seed Oakton in the first game of the day on Monday. That sent the Eagles to face St. Cloud Tech in the consolation round later that evening.
That bounce-back win, sent RCC to the Final Four of the World Series on Tuesday afternoon which ended in the disappointing 14-1 loss to Rowan Gloucester.
June 22, 2018