GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. – Ninth-rated Iowa Western finally hit a bump in the road.
After three straight victories in the JUCO World Series, the Reivers met a big chunk of adversity, falling 23-8 in five innings to No. 15 Navarro (Texas) at Sam Suplizio Field.
Iowa Western (51-10) will get a rematch with Navarro (41-17) at 8 p.m. Central on Friday. The winner will meet unrated Central Arizona (49-20) in Saturday’s 8 p.m. championship, and the loser will be eliminated.
Both teams on Thursday managed 13 hits, but one statistic told a big part of the story: Iowa Western pitchers walked 13, and Navarro walked none.
The Reivers were short on arms Thursday, but they are expected to have more available on Friday.
“We were just depleted pitching-wise,’’ Reiver coach Marc Rardin said. “We’ve always done more with less. Been proud about that throughout the years. We were just depleted tonight. It will be a different ballgame tomorrow night.’’
Navarro jumped on the Reivers for six runs in the second, eight in the fourth and six in the fifth. Leading the way were Esteban Cardoza-Oque, who was 3-for-5 with five RBIs, including a double and a triple, and Jose Gonzalez, who was 2-for-5 with five RBIs, including a double and a homer. Kyle Landers and Stacey Bailey each drove in three runs and homered.
For Iowa Western, Ronald Sweeny and Isaiah Peterson each went 3-for-3, with Peterson homering and driving in two. But it wasn’t nearly enough.
The Reivers will finish either first, second or third in the nation. Rardin said it’s not about rah-rah speeches at this time of year.
“I’m not a big talk guy,’’ he said. “The kids might be a little dumb and do dumb things and say dumb things, but they ain’t stupid. My kids aren’t either. They see what happened. They know how it was. Thirteen hits to 13 hits. It has to start and end on the mound, and it will be a little bit different tomorrow night.’’
Navarro 162 86 – 23 13 3
Iowa Western 022 40 – 8 13 4
W: Hall. L: Balandis. 2B: N, Cardoza-Oque, Rugely, Gonzalez; IW, Sweeny, Peterson. 3B: N, Cardoza-Oque; IW, Kasperbauer. HR: N, Landers, Bailey, Gonzalez. IW, Peterson.