Junior College baseball: Cochise goes down swinging

2013-06-04T00:00:00Z Junior College baseball: Cochise goes down swingingZack Rosenblatt Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
June 04, 2013 12:00 am  • 

It took Todd Inglehart until he was lying down in his bed at a hotel in Grand Junction, Colo., to realize what just happened.

He stared at his clock - it was 1 a.m.

"When I saw the time," said Inglehart, the baseball coach at Cochise College, "I was kind of surprised."

"First thing I did when I got on the bus," added pitcher Steven Naemark, a Mountain View alum, "was call my parents. But, the second I looked at my phone and it was 12:30, it felt like it was 10."

The Apaches had just fallen to Central Alabama Community College 14-13 in a JUCO World Series semifinal matchup that lasted 11 innings, four hours and 35 minutes.

With the loss, Cochise College took third place to cap its season. Naemark (11-3, 3.09 ERA) took the loss in the game after giving up a run in the final inning.

"I knew it was long," Inglehart said, "but you're so entrenched and it's so intense that you're just trying to survive. I would have taken a six-hour game if we could've won."

Here's a look at the Apaches path to the JUCO World Series:

Setting goals

Before the season started in January, Inglehart gathered his team.

"We made our goals," he said, "and we accomplished every single one."

Win 40 games? Powered by an 11-game winning streak in the middle of the season - done. They went 52-19.

The other goals were all playoff-related - win the conference championship, win in the first round of the regional tournament, win the tournament and win the district championship.

The Apaches accomplished every goal, except the conference championship.

"I really think we had a great season," Naemark said. "Nobody expected us to do what we did. It really got bigger than I thought it would."

Bouncing back

Once Cochise advanced past the regional tournament, and then the district tournament in Sterling, Colo., the team opened the double-elimination JUCO World series in Grand Junction against Neosho County Community College.

The Apaches lost 2-1.

"We still never really lost confidence after that first loss," Naemark said. "The mood on the bus ride home was kind of like, 'I can't believe it went that way.' But everyone knew it wouldn't happen again."

Cochise followed the loss with a 3-1 win over Connors State, a 16-1 victory over Neosho and a 10-3 win over Spartanburg Methodist before the semifinal matchup with Central Alabama. The Apaches had a 13-9 lead heading into the ninth inning, but it didn't hold, and the 14-13, extra-inning loss stung hard.

"The loss, yeah it was devastating," Inglehart said. "But kids, I guess they're not kids anymore, they have a short-term memory. They'll get over it."

"I won't," he said with a laugh, "but those were amazing memories for the guys that they'll never forget. Dog pile after dog pile they got to have, and I'm just so happy they got to experience it."

Contact reporter Zack Rosenblatt at zrosenblatt@azstarnet.com or 573-4145. On Twitter @zackblatt

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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