Gulf Coast set to co-host Visit Panama City Beach College Classic

Published: Feb. 2, 2023 at 10:42 PM CST
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PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) -For the second year Gulf Coast is teaming with Visit Panama City Beach to host a College Baseball Classic at Publix Sports Park. 16 teams, including Gulf Coast Chipola and Northwest Florida, set to compete in three days of high level junior college competition. In fact the field of 16 teams includes a dozen ranked inside Perfect Game USA’s top 50. 9 of the 12 are inside the top 25 and four teams are top ten in those rankings. McLennan, out of Waco, Texas, and the Commodores both practicing early Thursday afternoon. We spoke with the head coaches of both about this event, starting with Gulf Coast’s Tyler Younger. He says this elite event made possible by the TDC and Visit Panama City Beach, making it more than just a baseball tournament!

”They’ve been awesome, both years that we’ve done this.” coach Younger says. “As far as helping us with hotels you know finding five or six hotels that are willing to work with us at a discounted price. So we could send it out to the teams and they could stay at those places. This year Rudy’s Barbecue is going to do a dinner for us tonight, for the teams that got in early. Beef O Bradys is doing a coaches social tomorrow night, over on the beach. So they’ve been awesome at setting up this type of thing. Not only them but also the guys at the sports park, I mean they’ve been great.

McLennan, out of Waco, Texas is one the teams competing here this weekend, it’s first year coach is Tyler Johnson. He was an assistant with the team when it played here last February.

”There was no process, it was absolutely we’re coming back.” coach Johnson told us as his team worked out Thursday. “It’s a fun tournament, we had a lot of competition here, we had a good time last year. We went 2-2, so hopefully we can do better this year, but it’s a blast. So, we can stay on the beach, so it’s a blast.”

“Basically, other than two teams, we’re returning the same field.” Younger told us. “We put out a feeler as soon as the tournamet was over last year to see who was interested in coming back. Because we thought we had a great turnout with the teams we brought in here, the talent, and all that type of stuff. And almost everybody jumped on it immediately to come back. So we’re excited to have these same people back.””

“The way we look at it is, yes it is a business trip.” adds coach Johnson. “But at the same time we’re going to be able to widen our focus and then narrow it when it comes to game time. We’re going to have a good time, we’re going to go to places to eat. We’re going to have some fun on the beach. But at the same time we’re going to be focused on what our job is, and to come here and win baseball games.”

“When we get to conference we’re going to play really good teams.” says coach Younger “If you play bad and you make mistakes, then life gets pretty hard on you. So it’s good for us early on, because we know our conference is going to be so tough. To play this type of competition the first couple of weekends gives us a good gauge of where you’re at. And how much better you need to get before you get into panhandle conference play.”

Gulf Coast opens at 10 a.m. Friday against San Jacinto, Northwest opens against Wabash Valley at 12:30 and Chipola starts against McLennan at 3:00.