A berth in the NJCAA Division III World Series is on the line this weekend as the District C Baseball Tournament unfolds at Mike Carter Field.
Three teams from the Metro Athletic Conference and independent Tyler Junior College will battle in a double-elimination tournament.
The winner advances to the NJCAA Division III World Series, which begins May 19 also at Mike Carter Field.
No. 3 seed Tyler Junior College (33-18), which is ranked No. 4 in the nation, opens play at 3 p.m. today against No. 2 seed Richland College (30-24). The second game is on Friday as No. 1 seed Eastfield (35-18), which is ranked No. 5 in the country, takes on North Lake College (28-22).
The tourney continues on Saturday with the championship slated for Sunday.
Eastfield, as MAC champion, and Richland, as MAC runner-up, automatically advanced to the tourney, but both TJC and North Lake had to win play-in series.
The Apaches swept Brookhaven College 2-0 in a best-of-three series last week, winning 2-1 and 14-4.
In the second game against Brookhaven, the Apaches had 17 hits as their bats got going.
“Offensively, the last two or three weeks … we are seeing the ball better and getting good at-bats,” TJC coach Doug Wren said. “We have had some good at-bats and hope it carries over to this weekend.”
Taylor Drolette leads the Apaches with a .352 average, followed by Jon McManemin (.337), Nico Moran (.327), Conner Lewis (.323) and Tyler Ernest (.321).
The Apaches have won six straight. TJC won two of three games with Richland, winning 17-2 on Feb. 5 in Dallas and splitting a doubleheader April 2 in Tyler — falling 5-1 and winning 6-2.
North Lake advanced by defeating North Arkansas 2-1, dropping an 11-8 game before rebounding for 10-2 and 8-0 victories in Harrison, Ark.
“The last 10 to 12 years, one of the teams representing this district has a great chance of winning the national championship; and we are excited about potentially being one of those teams,” Wren said.
The District C champion has captured the national title eight out of the last 11 seasons including last year when Eastfield took the crown. Tyler finished second in 2010 and won it all in 2007.
If TJC wins today, the Apaches will play at 3 p.m. Saturday. However, a loss means TJC will play at noon in an elimination game.
SMOKE SIGNALS: Two teams have already qualified for the World Series — Montgomery College-Germantown, Md. (30-26) and Northern Essex Community College, Mass. (27-7).
2012 NJCAA Division III Baseball
District C Tournament Schedule
Mike Carter Field, Tyler
1. M.A.C. Champion - Eastfield College
2. M.A.C. Runner-Up - Richland College
3. Tyler Junior College
4. North Lake College
Game 1 — No. 2 Seed Richland College (30-24) vs. No. 3 Seed Tyler Junior College 33-18), 3 p.m.
Game 2 — No. 1 Seed Eastfield (35-18) vs. No. 4 Seed North Lake College (28-22), 6 p.m.
Game 3 — Loser Game 1 vs. Loser Game 2, noon
Game 4 — Winner Game 1 vs. Winner Game 2, 3 p.m.
Game 5 — Winner Game 3 vs. Loser Game 4, 6 p.m.
Game 6 — Championship Game, noon
Game 7 — Championship Game (if necessary), 3 p.m.