The Montgomery College Raptors baseball team, which plays home games on the Germantown Campus, will be playing in the National Junior College Athletic Association World Series in Kinston, NC, this weekend. This is the second-year in a row the Raptors are playing in the World Series.
It marks the 13th time that Coach Dan Rascher has taken a Montgomery College baseball team to the NJCAA Division III World Series. He has done it three times as the Raptors and 10 times as the Montgomery College Gryphons.
“This is the ninth year of the last 11 years that we are going to the World Series,” said Rascher. “This is a very close-knit team. These guys really get along with each other and play well together.”
The Raptors are 35-14 coming into the World Series with wins over more powerful Division I and Division II teams. “We’ve beaten some very good teams this year,” said Rascher. “We beat DII Frederick Community College twice this year; we split with DI Hagerstown. We’ve beaten a few of the DI and DII teams in the Maryland Junior College Athletic Conference. We have a pretty good team.”
The Raptors will travel to play in the NJCAA DIII World Series at historic Grainger Stadium in Kinston, NC on Saturday, May 28. The tournament, which is an eight-team, double elimination affair runs through June 2. The Raptors will face 21-14 Northern Essex Community College, from Haverhill, Mass. Rascher and the Raptors have faced the Knights of NECC in the past but not this season.
To earn this trip to NJCAA DIII World Series, last weekend, the Raptors won the best of three District H Championship Series over Danville Community College to advance to play in Kinston, NC. The Raptors won the first game, dropped the second and came back to win the third game.
Leading the nation in wins for a pitcher with 12, Harry Thomas III, (Washington, DC) got the start on the mound for the Raptors in game one of the District H Championship Series. Thomas pitched a shutout into the sixth inning allowing Danville only two hits. The Raptors offense put up seven runs after six innings. Danville scored their first run of the game in the seventh inning, but Montgomery College swung back putting up ten runs in the eighth inning. Thomas recorded his 12th win of the season as the Raptors took game one, 17-2.
Game two was completely different. Danville scored a run in the first inning and scored two more runs in the fourth inning to take a 3-0 lead. MC tied up the game in the bottom half of the fourth inning with a Brooks Carson (Arlington, Va.) SAC fly and single from Nolan Gilbert (Annandale, Va.) that drove in two runs. Danville scored their winning run in the seventh inning off a SAC fly, and the Raptors couldn't respond and lost game two, 4-3.
Matt Durkin (Mount Airy) got the start on the mound for the Raptors in the win-or-go-home game three. Durkin walked the leadoff batter and then he moved around the bases and scored on a Raptor error. Montgomery's offense took charge of the game to score two runs in the first, four runs in the second, one run in the third, and five runs in the fifth. After the fifth inning, MC built a comfortable 14-1 lead, and Drukin was still holding strong as he pitched a no-hitter going into the seventh inning. Padro Mateo (Washington D.C.) turned out the lights in the seventh inning with a three-run bomb over the left field wall as the Raptors went on to win game three 17-2. Rockville High School’s Greg Brown provided some clutch hitting for the Raptors as he went four for five with two runs and four RBIs.
There are two players from Germantown on the team said Rascher. Chris Heckhaus is from Seneca Valley High School, he plays right field and is having a very good year, and Brennan Karn is a pitcher from Northwest High School. Karn has won six games and lost one this season.
While Rascher has taken many teams to this point, not all have come back winners. However, this group may be different said Rascher.
“They are a tight-knit bunch,” said Rascher. “Coaching in junior college, the players are only here for two years and often you don’t see teams getting close. This team is very close. They hang out and go dinner together after practice. You can tell when teams are close. These guys are close, and they want to win, and they are playing their best baseball right now.”
Editor’s Note: Montgomery College’s Jorge Zuniga, contributed to this story.
Top: Montgomery College Baseball defeats Danville Community College in three-game series to claim district title and advance to NJCAA World Series May 27- June 2 in Kinston, NC. Photo by Jorge Zuniga.
Next: Video of Najarogny Garica’s diving catch during the district series game. Courtesy MC Raptors Instagram.
Next: The nation’s leading junior college pitcher, Harry Thomas III (25), has 12 wins this season.
Next: Former Rockville High School player Greg Brown (27) at bat during the 2016 season.
Next: Germantown resident Brennan Karn (15) pitches in an MC Raptor game earlier this season. Karn won six games and lost one pitching for the Raptors this season.
Photos by Michael Simone, courtesy Montgomery College.