Mesa Community College’s baseball team captured the NJCAA Division II national championship Sunday in Enid, Oklahoma, capping a 52-13 season with the fourth national baseball title in school history.
The Thunderbirds, who opened the national playoffs with a loss to Vincennes (Indiana), came back through the loser’s bracket to win five straight games, including the 11-inning clincher against Hinds (Mississippi). It was MCC’s first national baseball title since 1972. MCC Freshman Jordan Zimmerman of Mesa Red Mountain High School was named tournament MVP after hitting 14 for 28 (.500 batting average) and setting a tournament record with 14 RBIs.
Nick Schuman, an MCC sophomore from Mesa Westwood High School, was named the tournament’s top pitcher, and head coach Tony Cirelli was named Coach of the Tournament. MCC players named to the All-Tournament Team were Evan Fresquez, Alex Gudac, and Zack Zoria.
Mesa’s 9-7 championship game win over Hinds featured a four-run 11th inning rally highlighted by a lead-off triple by Zimmerman and run-scoring singles by Cole Loncar and Drew Lacomb. Pitcher Joseph Carvalho preserved the win in the bottom of the 11th, but not before Hinds put the winning runs on base. Carvalho induced a ground ball out with the bases loaded, and the Thunderbirds walked off champions.
Overall, MCC won nine of 10 postseason games, with four of the wins coming less than nine innings by way of the mercy rule. The Thunderbirds also shared the regular season ACCAC championship with Division I Central Arizona College, who MCC beat four straight times for the western district championship and trip to nationals.