Pima College’s baseball team ended its season 46-18 following a pair of losses Friday after reaching the NJCAA Division 1 West District semifinals at Southeast College in Beatrice, Neb.
The Aztecs lost to Salt Lake 7-5 in the semifinals and Southeast 8-6 in the elimination-bracket final.
Salt Lake will play Southeast for the district championship Saturday at 10 a.m. (Tucson time). If Salt Lake loses, the teams will play again later Saturday in a deciding game to win the district title and advance to the NJCAA Division 1 World Series at Grand Junction, Colo., starting next Saturday.
Ken Jacome’s fifth season as Pima’s coach resulted in the Aztecs’ first Region I, Division I championship since 1998. It was also the program’s first trip to the Region I, Division I finals since 2005.
The Aztecs had 18 sophomores on the roster, including ACCAC Region I, Division I Player of the Year Andrew Stucky, a CDO grad who will play at Texas-San Antonio. He hit home runs in Pima’s games against McCook (Neb.) and Salt Lake in the district tournament to finish with seven home runs and 43 RBIs while batting .362 this season.
Pima also featured Arizona-bound left-handed starters Alessandro Castro (Pusch Ridge graduate) and Jaeden Swanberg (Salpointe).
Castro, a freshman with three years of eligibility remaining, was 7-5 with a 4.35 ERA with 58 strikeouts and 14 walks in 68 1/3 innings.
Swanberg finished with a 5.43 ERA and 5-4 record with 63 strikeouts and 31 walks in 68 innings.
Nine Aztecs are headed to NCAA Division I programs:
- LHP Matthew Cornelius (St. Pius, N.M.) – New Mexico State
- OF Andrew Stucky (CDO) — Texas-San Antonio
- LHP Alessandro Castro (Pusch Ridge) – Arizona
- C Hunter Faildo (Mililani, Hawaii) – Hawai’i at Manoa
- RHP Wyatt Hardy (Valor Christian, Colo.) – New Mexico
- INF Gage Mestas (Durango, Colo.) – Gonzaga
- INF Braedon Mondeau (Cienega) – BYU
- LHP Matt Romero (Sandia, N.M.) – New Mexico State
- LHP Jaeden Swanberg (Salpointe Catholic) – Arizona
Some of the top freshmen slated to return include right-handed pitcher JT Drake, who had 15 saves this season, outfielder Elijah Reeves (Marana grad), Ruben Castro (Tucson), Austin Madsen (CDO), outfielder Antonio Avila, outfielder David Shackelford and first baseman Benji Cazares (Tucson).