The conclusion of the NJCAA Division III Baseball World Series presented by Dakotas will be the end of an era for the Rose City.
This will be the eighth and final year the City of Tyler and Tyler Junior College has hosted the national tournament. At least for the next three years (2015-17), it will be held in Kinston, North Carolina.
But tournament organizers are not holding back and will make it a grand event once again.
Also, TJC would like to put its mark on the finale. The Apaches are one of eight teams in the double-elimination tournament. They will be making their fourth appearance in the event.
TJC won the national championship in 2007, the first year the tourney was held in Tyler.
What better way to conclude the run than with another title?
"The opportunity for us to host the World Series has been a really cool deal," TJC coach Doug Wren said. "Obviously, we had some opportunities — we won in '07 (when Dr. Jon Groth was head coach and Wren an assistant).
"We had some opportunities in 2010 and 2012 — to kind of bookend this era of us hosting and winning it on our home field in front of our home fans could be really something special."
The chance for the Apaches and eight other teams begins today at Mike Carter Field.
The eight teams entered include: District A — Herkimer County Community College Generals of Herkimer, New York (38-9); District B — Waubonsee Community College Chiefs of Sugar Grove, Illinois (37-23); District C — Tyler Junior College Apaches of Tyler (38-17); District D — Prince George's Community College Owls of Largo, Maryland (12-21); District E — St. Cloud Technical & Community College Cyclones of St. Cloud, Minnesota (27-7); District F — Suffolk County Community College Sharks of Selden, New York (22-10); District G — Cumberland County College Dukes of Vineland, New Jersey (46-8) and District H — Northern Essex Community College of Haverhill, Massachusetts (20-12).
Cumberland and Prince George's are making their first World Series appearance.
Today's schedule is:
Game 1: Herkimer County vs. Northern Essex, 9 a.m.;
Game 2: Tyler vs. Suffolk County, noon;
Game 3: Prince George's vs. St. Cloud, 4 p.m.
Game 4: Waubonsee vs. Cumberland, 7 p.m.
Groth, a TJC and UT Tyler professor, also said the tournament will honor the military during the course of the event. During the tourney, military personnel with appropriate ID will be admitted free.
Also, today is Military Appreciation Day. Military vehicles will be on display as well as dog tags will be made for kids.
Before the noon game, there will a flyover and ceremonial first pitches by sponsors and military personnel. The national anthem will be performed by singer/songwriter Taylor Heard.
After the game, the 2007 TJC national championship team will be recognized.
Before the 4 p.m. game on Sunday, Stevie Jo Rosenbalm from "The Voice" will sing the national anthem.
Wren has been confident the Apaches would return to the World Series this season.
"One of the things we really felt going into this year was what we liked about the team was the leadership," Wren said. "The guys that we had coming back; the kind of people they were; the kind of kids they are; the students; … and they are hungry. They missed out on an opportunity last year.
"One thing we can look toward and it is not really a baseball thing — it's more of the leadership of the guys and the kind of kids we have on this team."
Entering the tourney, TJC (38-17) has won six straight, including a 3-0 record in the District C Tournament that determined a berth in the national event.
"Obviously, we want to win every game we play in, but we always talk about peaking at the right time and playing our best baseball when it matters the most," Wren said. "I think we did that (during the District C Tournament) and hopefully that momentum carries over into (World Series)."
The winner of the TJC-Suffolk game will meet the winner of the No. 3 Herkimer-No. 7 Northern Essex game at 4 p.m. Sunday. The loser of the TJC-Suffolk game will play the loser of Herkimer and Northern Essex at 9 a.m. Sunday.
SMOKE SIGNALS: A tournament pass is $20 (adults only), while single-day passes are $5 (adult) and $3 (students/children). Children 10 and under and any Little League player in uniform gets in free. … Groth and Dr. Tim Drain, TJC athletic director, said Tyler will seek the tournament again when it comes up for bid in two years.
NJCAA Division III
Mike Carter Field
Saturday's Games, May 24
Game 1: Herkimer (N.Y.) vs. Northern Essex (Mass.), 9 a.m.
Game 2: Tyler vs. Suffolk (N.Y.), noon
Game 3: Prince George's (Md.) vs. St. Cloud (Minn.), 4 p.m.
Game 4: Waubonsee (Ill.) vs. Cumberland (N.J.), 7 p.m.
Sunday's Games, May 25
Game 5: Loser Game 1 vs. Loser Game 2, 9 a.m.
Game 6: Loser Game 3 vs. Loser Game 4, noon
Game 7: Winner Game 1 vs. Winner Game 2, 4 p.m.
Game 8: Winner Game 3 vs. Winner Game 4, 7 p.m.
Monday's Games, May 26
Game 9: Winner Game 6 vs. Loser Game 7, noon
Game 10: Winner Game 5 vs. Loser Game 8, 4 p.m.
Game 11: Winner Game 7 vs. Winner Game 8, 7 p.m.
Tuesday's Games, May 27
Game 12: Winner Game 9 vs. Winner Game 10, 4 p.m.
Game 13: Winner Game 12 vs. Loser Game 11, 7 p.m.
Wednesday's Games, May 28
Game 14: Winner Game 11 vs. Winner Game 13, 7 p.m.
Thursday's Games, May 29
Game 15: Winner Game 14 vs. Loser Game 14, 7 p.m. (if necessary, if winner of Game 13 defeats winner of Game 11)