by Reese Williams
“2-2 count and here comes the pitch from Arredondo. Carr pops it up to the right side of the field and that will do it. The Tampa Spartans have won the Division II Baseball National Championship”, said the announcer.
This title marks the eighth time that the Spartans have won the Division II NCAA National Championship. It is the Spartans third title in the last seven years and is Joe Urso’s fifth title as the head coach of The University of Tampa Baseball team. Joe Urso would also go on to be named the 2019 ABCA/Diamond National Coach of the Year for Division II. This is his sixth time winning the award. .
When asked about receiving this honor, Urso said, “I am very honored to be named Coach of the Year for myself and my staff, Sam Militello and Jose Jimenez. A lot of time and hard work goes into a season to become the best and I am so thankful for my entire coaching staff.”
On their run to the Championship game the Spartans were flawless, going 9-0. During their run they had two games go to extra innings, one in the regionals against Nova Southeastern, and one in the Super Regionals against Delta State.
“We had a great group of coaches and players that bought in from the first day and the goal was the National Championship,” said Keven Pimentel, senior starting pitcher. “As a team we remained confident through all the ups and downs and it got us to our goal. To actually win the National Championship was a great feeling and it showed that all our hard work had finally paid off. I can’t express enough on how well the coaching staff prepared us for the moment.”
This year in Division II Baseball, there was the addition of the Super Regionals, which has been a main state in Division I Baseball for years. The Spartans actually got the chance to host one of the first Super Regionals as well.
“It was very exciting to hold one of the first ever ‘Super Regional in baseball’. It was easier than a full regional since only one other team was involved. Plus both teams that played were very good, so the games were good and moved along very well,” said Larry Marfise, athletic director at The University of Tampa.
Another interesting thing about this year’s tournament was the fact that the MLB draft occurred while the Division II World Series was going on. In years past it would have been over by the point of the draft but due to the addition of the Super Regional, everything got pushed back. In total the Spartans would have four players drafted to the MLB.
Those would include Sammy Peralta, drafted in the 18th round by the Chicago White Sox; Sunshine State Conference Player of the Year, Yorvis Torrealba, drafted in the 20th round by the Colorado Rockies; NCAA Statistical Champion for Wins, Keven Pimentel, drafted in the 28th round by the Colorado Rockies; and Tyler Beck, drafted in the 30th round by the Minnesota Twins.
“This was the first time being with my players during the draft and it became one of my favorite moments in coaching,” said Urso. “Seeing these young men so excited to hear their names called and to see their teammates enjoy this moment with them was so special.”
For one player, Yorvis Torrealba, being drafted by the Colorado Rockies was a dream come true. “Being drafted by the Rockies was a dream come true since it has been my favorite team since I was a little boy. It was unreal when I found out they were going to draft me. I’m looking forward to keep learning and moving forward in this organization,” said Torrealba
Torrealba also was named the SSC Player of the Year. When asked about receiving this award Torrealba said, “If it wasn’t for my coaches and teammates I wouldn’t have been able to win the Player of the Year. It meant a lot to me to be able to win that award and I thank God for blessing me with it.”
Overall, this season for the Spartans was a success. From start to finish the team set their goal and achieved it and now they sit a top of the Division II Baseball world. However, now they have the job of defending their title. It will not be an easy task but if they continue to play Spartan baseball then they should have a pretty good shot at retaining.
Reese Williams can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org