Former Tiger nabs World Series win
Charles Prince, Hartselle Enquirer
On the eve of the National Junior College World Series, Wallace State College pitcher Joey Watson wasn't sure he'd even play in the series. Less than 24 hours later, the Hartselle High grad was the winning pitcher in the tournament's opening game.
Watson, who gained notoriety in high school for his ability to pitch both right and left-handed, came in top of the fifth inning, with Wallace trailing Northeast Oklahoma A&M junior college, 7-1. Watson inherited a two-on and no-out situation before a packed stadium of 9,811 fans in Grand Junction, Colo.
"I was nervous, real nervous," Watson said. "I even said a prayer, asking to get over my nervousness."
Watson, who threw left-handed during the game, calmed down enough to get the first batter on a pop-up and then got a ground ball from the next batter for a double play to end the threat.
Watson finished the game throwing five innings of two-hit ball and didn't allow a run. Meanwhile, the Lions bats came to life and forged an 8-7 lead in the bottom of the eighth inning. Watson wasn't sure he'd finish the game, but Wallace State coach Randy Putman sent him to the hill for the final inning.
"I was expecting to come out at any time," Watson said.
"I was surprised coach let me finish the game. I was pretty excited to go to the mound in the ninth inning with a lead."
Watson finished off the game by getting a fly ball to the outfield and striking out the last two batters, his only two strikeouts of the night.
"I threw the ball pretty well and hit my spots when I needed to," Watson, who threw 60 pitches on the night, said. "Everyone on our team said after the game it was a miracle we made the comeback.
"I've never seen anything like it in a game I've been in."
On Monday, Wallace whipped Texarkana Junior College, 10-5, and put themselves within one win of the tournament semi-finals.
The second win left open the possibility Watson could be a member of a national championship team.
"We're not the most talented team here," Watson said. "But we play together and we don't quit. We have the confidence we can take the title. It's within our grasp to win it."