GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. — A disputed home run call contributed to a bad first inning, and State College of Florida never recovered in a 13-5 loss to San Jacinto (Texas) College on the opening day of the JUCO World Series at Suplizio Field.
San Jacinto slugger Riley Hornback had to go to the hospital before the game and get six stitches underneath his chin after running into a fence during batting practice.
But Hornback made it back in time for the start of the game, and in the top of the first, he hit a ball down the left-field line that was initially ruled a foul ball by home-plate umpire Don Gilmore.
San Jacinto coach Tom Arrington came out to protest.
The umpires discussed it and changed it to a home run.
“I didn’t see (the grand slam),” Manatees coach Tim Hill said. “All I saw was the home plate umpire who stared right down the line emphatically motion foul ball, foul ball, foul ball. He was right down the line and emphatically made the call (and changed it). It didn’t help any, but we didn’t play very well (Saturday).”
One inning later, Hornback’s younger brother, Ryan, hit a two-run home run for a 7-0 lead. It was his first home run of his collegiate career.
“That couldn’t have been at a better time either,” Riley Hornback said. “I couldn’t be more happy for him.
“It’s great. There’s a couple sets of brothers that played in this tournament. Ryan and I came out and played well. Three hits, he had a great game.”
The Hornback brothers combined to go 5 for 9 with eight RBIs for the No. 1-ranked Gators (49-10).
It was not a great game for SCF (37-14) ace Alex Burgos, suffered just his second loss of the season after allowing eight earned runs on seven hits in 4 2/3 innings.
“Our security blanket got taken away from us early,” Hill said. “I haven’t seen Alex pitch like that since early when he was a freshman. He didn’t have his best stuff. That was the first outing all season he didn’t. I don’t know what was going through his head, but San Jac is for real. They executed well and we didn’t execute well.”
Austin Chubb and Tyler Rocklein hit back-to-back home runs in the fourth inning as the Manatees scored three runs to momentarily close the gap to 7-3. Hunter Ovens was 2-for-4 with an RBI while Brad Dantzler and Paul Stortini both had two hits for SCF.
The Gators move on to a winner’s bracket game Monday against Hutchinson (Kan.) CC, which beat Chattanooga (Tenn.) State CC 15-3.
The Manatees will face Chattanooga at noon today in an elimination game.f