When the Archers took the field Tuesday, they did so one win away from becoming the first St. Louis Community College team to reach the National Junior College Athletic Association Division I World Series since moving to a districtwide athletic program.
The Archers’ bid came up just short, as Delgado Community College (Louisiana) defeated the Archers 9-6 in the winner-take-all South Central District Tournament finale on Tuesday.
The loss came at the conclusion of what was an impressive late-season run by the Archers (34-23), who were 6-10 on March 19 and then won 28 of their final 41 games.
“I think it was really as simple as we were able to set things up and project things well for a good part of the year,” head coach Scott Goodrich said. “We had a rotation, we had our lineup together. There were a lot of inconsistencies early on, and we weren’t really deep on the mound. Those six early games were tough on us. We then played a few games and worked right into regional play. I just think we had to battle a lot of elements early.”
The regional title was the first for the program since moving to a districtwide athletics department in 2011, and the first for any STLCC baseball team since Meramec achieved the feat nine years ago.
The Archers took the scenic route to the winner-take-all finale in the South Central District Tournament. STLCC lost 9-1 to Delgado on Sunday, before defeating 10th-ranked Seminole State 3-2. The Archers then out-slugged Delgado 12-8 in an elimination game on Monday.
It was a very different path the Archers took in the Region XVI final, when they won their first three games and gained two opportunities to beat Metropolitan Community College-Maple Woods. Overall, Goodrich can take plenty of solace in a 34-win season, the second consecutive 30-win campaign of his head coaching tenure, as well as a Region XVI title that, at the season’s outset, may have appeared improbable to those outside STLCC.
“The first thing that is going to stick out is winning a regional championship, the first in nine years, and first as STLCC,” Goodrich said. “We played really well in the tournament and had nothing to be ashamed of. You really couldn’t ask for anything more, and a lot of that has to do with our sophomores. You look at (Thomas) Estopare, (Brandon) Gutzler, and other guys who were core players last year, and got better this year. When you have a core group of players that gets better in their second year, that’s a good thing.”