Temple College needs to finish the baseball regular season with a flourish and get help to advance to the NJCAA Region V tournament.
If that situation sounds familiar, it should. It’s the same predicament the Leopards faced at this time last year in the Northern Texas Junior College Athletic Conference. TC defied the odds then, so it knows that possibility exists.
Fifth-place Temple is 13-15 in the NTJCAC — three games behind third-place squads Hill and North Central Texas — entering its final four-game series against eighth-place Cisco (7-21). The Leopards travel to Cisco today to battle the Wranglers in a 1 p.m. doubleheader, followed by Saturday’s 1 p.m. twinbill at TC’s Danny Scott Sports Complex.
Temple (21-27 overall) must go 3-1 or better to have any shot to seize one of the NTJCAC’s four berths in the regional tournament in San Angelo. Even if TC sweeps to finish 17-15, it still needs help. If North Central Texas goes 2-2 or better against second-place Grayson and Hill goes at least 2-2 against sixth-place Weatherford, Temple will be eliminated from postseason contention.
“The big thing is it doesn’t do any good for us to worry about the other side of it if we don’t take care of our business. If we lose a couple games, we’re out,” said Temple coach Craig McMurtry, who plans to start right-handed pitchers Ben McDonald (4-1) and Reece Easterling (4-4) today. “If we don’t win four games, things are going to get real dicey.”
Temple and North Central split their series 2-2 and both were 0-4 against first-place McLennan. If TC and North Central finish tied for fourth at 16-16, the Leopards would own the tiebreaker based on their 1-3 record against Grayson compared to what would be North Central’s 0-4 mark against the Vikings.
Potentially aiding the Leopards is that Grayson has ample motivation, needing to sweep North Central to share the NTJCAC championship with McLennan, which has completed its schedule. Also, Weatherford has flickering hopes of joining a logjam at 16-16.
Sophomore second baseman Breck Potvin and the Leopards are 8-4 in their last 12 conference games and hope to conjure more late-season magic.
“It’s almost an uneasy feeling knowing someone else has to lose for us to get in. We’ve got to take care of our business and whatever happens, happens,” said Potvin, the switch-hitting Belton product who’s overcome finger and foot injuries to lead TC with a .382 batting average, a .452 on-base percentage, 58 hits, 37 runs and 18 stolen bases. “We’re looking to get into the regional and hopefully another World Series appearance.”