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2019 NJCAA Division I Baseball World Series May 25-June 1, 2019 | Sam Suplizio Field | Grand Junction, Colorado

Vaqueros stand alone! Central Arizona captures third NJCAA DI Baseball championship

A first-inning deficit quickly faded as the Central Arizona Vaqueros relied on a stingy bullpen and a prolific offensive attack to take down Iowa Western 13-8 and win its third NJCAA DI Baseball World Series title and its first championship since 2002. The Vaqueros' only other title came in 1976.

Winners of 19 of its final 21 contests, the Vaqueros' offensive surge in the title game came as no surprise. Central Arizona averaged 10.8 runs throughout its six-game championship run and scored in double digits in eight of the team's final nine games of the season. With its dominant finish to the season, the Vaqueros completed their 2019 campaign with a 50-20 record, the program's first 50-win season since 2011, also their last NJCAA DI Baseball World Series appearance.

Central Arizona's Ernny Ordonez powered the Vaqueros' offensive attack with a 3-5 performance in the championship game that included a home run and three RBI

The Vaqueros' sights on hoisting the coveted championship trophy became nebulous to start the game as Iowa Western erupted for seven runs in the top half of the first inning. With its offense firing on all cylinders throughout the tournament, all Central Arizona needed was a chance at bat.

Ernny Ordonez seized the first opportunity that came Central Arizona's way as the sophomore provided an RBI-double to ignite the offense in the home half of the first inning. The Vaqueros tacked on three more runs in the opening frame and added another in the second to inch closer to the Reivers.

While the offense was powering up, Michael DeCovich came in from the bullpen to stifle the once-potent Iowa Western attack. The freshman hurler tossed four consecutive scoreless innings as Central Arizona exploded for five runs in the third, two in the fifth, and its final tally in the sixth to pull away.

Behind Ordonez's three-hit performance and the relief effort of DeCovich and Lucas Knowles, the Vaqueros held off any last-ditch effort from the Reivers to claim the national championship.

Making its sixth overall appearance in Grand Junction, Central Arizona picked up opening round wins over Monroe (NY) and Chattahoochee Valley (AL) before falling to Iowa Western in the third round, 14-4. The Vaqueros rebounded in the consolation bracket, defeating Chattahoochee Valley once again before eliminating Walters State (TN), the 2018 runners-up, to set the stage with the Reivers.

Iowa Western, making its 19th overall appearance, was in search of its fourth national title. The Reivers were the last undefeated team in the tournament after winning their first three games before falling to Navarro. In an elimination game rematch, Iowa Western ousted Navarro to earn a spot in the winner-take-all title game with Central Arizona.

While the offense performed on center stage at Sam Suplizio field, sophomore hurler Dakota Donovan starred on the mound. In just 15.0 innings of work, Donovan racked up 26 strikeouts while issuing just one walk. For his efforts, Donovan was awarded the Robert Purkey Jr. Most Outstanding Pitcher honor.

As a staff in six games of action, Central Arizona limited the opposition to the lowest earned run average and opposing batting average among all 10 teams. The Vaqueros' 66 strikeouts were also a tournament-best.

Central Arizona placed five players on the all-tournament team - Liam Spence, Hunter Jump, Brennan Reback, Jake Meyer, and Jonathan Stroman. Jump earned MVP honors for his postseason efforts.

In his 5th season at the helm of the Vaqueros, Anthony Gilich led Central Arizona to the program's third national championship. Gilich was named the Bus Bugman Coach of the Year following the championship performance.

Navarro freshman Jose Gonzalez Jr. put on an offensive performance rarely seen before in Grand Junction. The Spring, TX native powered his way to five home runs, one shy of tying the DI World Series record. Gonzalez tied a DI World Series record with three home runs in the Bulldogs' opening round win over Chipola. The rookie capped his postseason run with a tournament-best 16 RBI and 26 total bases while earning All-Tournament team honors. Gonalez Jr. was also awarded the prestigious Homa Thomas Sportsmanship Award.
Navarro finished as the third-place team after scoring the third-most runs throughout the tournament

The 2019 NJCAA DI Baseball World Series was filled with offensive firepower. The 10-team field combined for 64 home runs, just two shy of setting a World Series record set in 2017. Navarro led the attack with a tournament-best 14 home runs while Iowa Western and Central Arizona contributed 11 home runs each.

2019 NJCAA DI Baseball World Series Photo Gallery

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