MONTGOMERY, Ala. - The University of Tampa baseball team finished the season where it started as the nation's number-one ranked team as the Spartans took a 7-2 victory over Columbus State (Ga.) University (51-19) to win their second consecutive NCAA II national championship. The Spartans become the first team to win consecutive titles since UT won in 1992 and 1993 as they capped off a 53-10 season.
Jonathan Holt, who was the team's closer for the entire season, made the surprise start and combined his excellent start with some solid late-inning hitting to lead the Spartans to another title.
The game began as a pitching duel, as the first two innings went scoreless with just a hit apiece. Columbus State scored the first lead of the game, scoring a run in the bottom of the third on an unearned run that was a result of a Jonny Geiger stolen base that created a throwing error on the play. Geiger then scored on a groundout to shortstop by Kurt McKee.
The Spartans quickly answered, scoring a pair of runs in the top of the fourth inning. After leaving three runners on base after three innings, Tampa scored its first run of the championship game on a Chris Rosenbaum double. A heady base running play by Nolan Brannon allowed UT to take a 2-1 lead as he advanced home on a wild pitch.
A defensive miscue in the sixth by the Cougars allowed the Spartans to extend their lead to 3-1 as Jose Jimenez crossed the plate on a wild pitch. After reaching base on a leadoff single, Jimenez advanced to third base on a double play before scoring the two-out run.
Tampa extended the advantage to 4-1 in the top of the eighth on a two out rally. Brannon got things started with a single through the left side. Rosenbaum, hitting next, rocketed a double off the left center wall to bring the UT lead to three runs.
The Rosenbaum double chased CSU starting pitcher Anthony Arrington, who pitched 7.2 innings for the Cougars. He was relieved by Johnny Floyd, who forced a Paul Cruz groundout to end the inning.
The Spartans went out with a bang with back-to-back home runs to lead off the top of the ninth. Junior Mejia connected for his third long ball of the year on a homer to deep left field. Troy Ferguson then came up and blasted a Floyd pitch that cleared the wall in right center. The pair of homers chased Floyd from the game as he was removed for Blake Norrell. Tampa then made the game 7-1 as Ryan Kennedy scored on a Roberto Mena base hit.
Holt went to 4-2 on the season as he pitched a complete game. In nine innings, he allowed just one earned run on six hits while striking out eight. His magnificent performance included zero walks in his longest outing of the year.
The Spartans offense was led by Rosenbaum, who finished 3-5 with two RBI. Brannon and Mejia each added two hits as Mejia, Ferguson and Mena each drove in a run as well.
2007 NCAA II National Championship All-Tournament Team
C - Chris Rosenbaum, Tampa
1B - Billy Howard, Columbus State
2B - Darin Mastroianni, Southern Indiana
3B - Brian Frew, Nebraska-Omaha
SS - Roberto Mena, Tampa
OF - Fernando Franco, Cal State-Los Angeles
OF - Drew Candlin, Columbus State
OF - Junior Mejia, Tampa
DH - Rodney Rutherford, Columbus State
P - Jonathan Holt, Tampa
P - Cory Julian, Southern Indiana
Most Outstanding Player: Jonathan Holt, Tampa