GPC Jaguars Win 17 Straight and Regular-Season Championship

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From left, Sam Bragg led the conference in strikeouts, while Russell Melton was batting champ and Trumon Jefferson was runner-up. (Photos by Bill Roa)

From left, Sam Bragg led the conference in strikeouts, while Russell Melton was batting champ and Trumon Jefferson was runner-up. (Photos by Bill Roa)

 

Georgia Perimeter College’s baseball team captured the conference regular-season championship by achieving a college-record 17-game winning streak.

 

The Jaguars went undefeated in April, an incredible accomplishment in a tough conference, but Darton State College ended GPC’s streak by shutting out the Jaguars in two Friday night games in the final three-game series of the season. That meant GPC had to win the following day or lose first place in the Georgia Collegiate Athletic Association standings to Middle Georgia State College. 

 

Two days of constant rain rendered the field at the Newton Campus soaked and unplayable, however, so the final game with Darton was cancelled, and commissioner David Elder declared GPC the regular-season champion.

 

Georgia Perimeter finished 25-6 in the GCAA standings, and first place earned an automatic berth in the National Junior College Athletic Association East-Central District tournament in Morristown, Tenn.

 

But the Jaguars’ magic ran out. They lost two games in the double elimination tournament of the GCAA (also known as Region 17 of the NJCAA). They then dropped two more at Morristown for their sixth straight loss in May. The season ended with a 36-21 record.

 

“In baseball it is usually the team that is hot and playing the best at that certain time,” said first-year head coach Brett Campbell. “And, unfortunately, we weren’t able to carry our hot April into May, when it really matters most.”

 

Seven Jaguars were named to the All-Region 17 team, the most players of any team.

 

Sophomores Trumon Jefferson, center field, and Russell Melton, left field, held down two-thirds of the all-conference first-team outfield. They also were named to the Gold Glove team for outstanding defense, along with sophomore third baseman Wes Armstrong and sophomore pitcher Landon Hayes.

 

Freshman catcher Pierce Ressmeyer and sophomore pitcher Sam Bragg, who was drafted by the Oakland Athletics in June, also were named to the all-conference first team. Ben Venters, a sophomore second baseman, made the second team as designated hitter.

 

In hitting, the Jaguars finished second in the league with a team .302 batting average. Melton won the intra-league batting title with a .456 average (.409 overall), and Jefferson was runner-up at .430.

 

The Jaguar pitchers compiled a team earned run average of 2.85, second best in the GCAA. Bragg led the conference in overall strikeouts with 91, and in conference play he finished third in ERA with a 1.64 average (1.08 overall).

 

GPC had a .974 fielding percentage, the best defense in the conference. Neither Melton nor Jefferson made an error in 159 chances between them.

 

Campbell was named Coach of the Year by the coaches of the GCAA. But he indicated he was not satisfied with his own work at the season’s end.

 

“I made some bad coaching decisions throughout the (district) tournament that cost us,” Campbell said. “My team and I will learn from these mistakes, and when we’re in this situation again—and we will be—I can promise you we will all be better prepared and not make them again.”

 

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