LAKELAND, FL (WJHG/WECP) The Chipola Indians are once again the Juco baseball champions in the State of Florida! Coach Jeff Johnson and his team splitting two games Wednesday with conference rival Northwest Florida, but winning the game that mattered in the end!
Coming into Wednesday's play, Chipola was unbeaten in the State Tournament, the Raiders had one loss. So in the championship round, Northwest needed to beat Chipola twice. They took care of business in the first game of the day, outscoring Chipola and eventually winning when Justice Thompson ended it with a walk-off three run homer in the 9th.That giving the Raiders a 10-7 game one win.
Game two began in the early afternoon, and Chipola put up the first two runs in the top of the second. The Raiders rally for 3 in the bottom of the third to lead it 3-2. The Indians though would blow it open with a huge rally in the 5th, the biggest blow, a grand slam by Julio Carreon that made it 7-3. Connor Kehl, who wound up being the tournament MVP, would add a two run shot later in the game. And Chipola was on the way to a 14-6 win. They wind up winning 5 of 8 in their series this season with Northwest, the champs of the Panhandle Conference.
This the third consecutive state title for coach Johnson and his program, and this is the first time a team's won three straight since the early 60's. So now Chipola, the three-time defending state champion and two-time defending national champion, wll be making plans to head west to Grand Junction, Colorado, for the JUCO World Series later this month.
In 21 seasons at Chipola, Jeff Johnson has led the Indians to three national titles, with those titles coming 2007, 2017 and 2018. That's on top of what is now 6 state championships.
As if all that isn't impressive enough, the Indians have appeared in the title game of the state tournament 9 of the last 12 years.
The team is set to return to campus between 2:30 and 3:00 Thursday afternoon.
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