Yavapai comes one run away from winning JuCo World Series
J.R. Murphy and his Yavapai College (Ariz.) baseball team came one victory away being crowned 2006 Junior College National Champions.
The Roughriders lost 7-6 to the Walters State College (Tenn.) Senators in front of 10,339 Saturday in the championship game of the NJCAA World Series ” a double-elimination tournament held in Grand Junction, Colo.
With one loss in the series aleady on its record, Yavapai entered the championship needing to beat undefeated Walters twice to take the title. Walters needed just one win from Yavapai.
Murphy, a 2004 Truckee High graduate and ace of the Yavapai pitching staff in his sophomore season, got the start in the elimination game on Friday.
The 6-foot-3 right-hander threw a gem in the must-win matchup, tossing seven shutout innings, striking out five and allowing five hits and one walk in a 9-0 rout.
But on Saturday Murphy picked up the loss in two innings of work.
Trailing 5-1 entering the sixth inning, the Roughriders loaded the bases with no outs for Kevin Gossage.
Gossage, nephew of former major-league pitcher Goose Gossage, came through with a first-pitch double to center to clear the bases and bring his team to within 5-4. Yavapai then tied the game at 5 on a sac fly in the seventh.
Walters regained the lead with a leadoff home run off Murphy in the eighth and added another run that inning to go up 7-5.
The Roughriders battled back with a run in the bottom half of the eighth, but were retired in order in the ninth to end the game.
Despite the disappointing loss in the JuCo World Series, Murphy finished the season with impressive numbers that eaned him a spot on the ACCAC all-conference first team.
Through May 22 Murphy was 10-1 overall with one save and an ERA of 1.71. In 94 1/3 innings, he allowed 72 hits and 18 earned runs while striking out 104 and walking only 15.
Murphy will pitch next year either at San Diego State University, where he signed a letter of intent, or in the Texas Rangers’ organization, if he receives an offer tempting enough to sign.