Javelinas host regional after winning conference
May 14, 2013 at 12:14 a.m.
Updated May 15, 2013 at 12:15 a.m.
Texas A&M-Kingsville is headed for its second straight NCAA Division II regional baseball tournament and its first as the host team and top seed.
Not bad for a team that made only two regional appearances in the previous 19 years.
Texas A&M-Kingsville coach Jason Gonzales gives much of the credit to his first recruiting class.
The class includes pitchers Dallas Ponder, a Flatonia graduate, Jeremy Flores, a Memorial graduate, Denver Diefenbach, a St. Joseph graduate, and Trent Wagner, a Memorial graduate.
"A majority of these guys have been starters since their freshman year," said Gonzales, a Cuero graduate who is in his fifth season as head coach. "It was kind of a baptism under fire for them. But this class has set some kind of record in every season. We hope they can continue to rewrite the record book."
The Javelinas (39-16) set a school record for wins in a season with their 10-7 victory over Angelo State in the championship game of the Lone Star Conference tournament last week in Canyon.
Texas A&M-Kingsville rebounded after dropping a 7-5 decision to the Rams in the previous game.
"We remembered back when we lost like three in a row (three out of four)," Gonzales said. "I said at that time I really think we can have a winning streak. We won 11 in a row and 12 out of 13. I think that helped us in the tournament."
The biggest plus for the Javelinas has been their pitching depth.
Ponder is limiting opposing hitters to a school-best .211 average, and Flores has set a school record with 19 career saves.
"That's what's gotten us to this point," Gonzales said. "We said we would have to pitch our way to the tournament and hit our way out. That's what happened. We do feel like our pitching is as deep as anybody in the tournament."
The South Central Regional tournament begins Thursday at Nolan Ryan Field.
Texas A&M-Kingsville will open against Colorado State-Pueblo at 7 p.m.
The championship game is scheduled for Sunday, and the winner will advance to the NCAA Division II College World Series in Cary, N.C.