NECC Knights are Second in the Nation
On Tuesday, June 7, Northern Essex Community College (Haverhill and Lawrence, MA) held a rally to celebrate its baseball team which returned from the NJCAA Division 3 World Series in Kinston, NC as the number 2 team in the nation.
The Knights entered the series as an underdog ranked 12th in the country, and as the World Series announcers kept saying “they defied the odds”, coming very close to the championship, which was decided Wednesday, June 1, in a 3-4 loss to Tyler (TX) Junior College.
At the rally—which included a barbecue, a slide show of photos from the World Series, and recognition of each team member, NECC President Lane Glenn thanked the team for “putting on a great show and showing off Northern Essex so well.”
Jeff Mejia, coach of the Knights since 2013, recognized each of the 19 players and said “we win games because we outwork every other team.”
Mejia stressed the importance of academics, thanking the college for providing an academic advisor and academic coach for each player.
“This is the first step for our players,” he said. “My job is to get these kids into 4-year schools.”
One third of this year’s team will be transferring, many with academic and athletic scholarships. The colleges they will be transferring to, including Ave Maria University in Florida (Robert Barry, Merrimac), UMass Lowell (Colby Maiola, North Reading), West Virginia University Institute of Technology (Anthony Dally, Lowell), UMass Amherst (Keith Linnane, North Reading) and the University of New Orleans (Jordan Roper, Lynnfield).
This was the fifth year in a row that the Knights have made it to the World Series, and second place is the closest they have ever come to winning.
Northern Essex began the series with a 12-10 win over Montgomery (MD) Community College on Saturday, May 28 followed by a 6-4 win over Niagara County (NY) Community College in the quarterfinals on Sunday, May 29.
The first game lasted over 4 and half hours and went into 12 innings, ending after midnight. The second game began at 10:15 pm due to a rain delay and didn’t end until after 2 a.m.
The Knights faced Tyler (Texas) Junior College in the semi-finals on Monday, May 30 and lost 0-10.
A 4-3 win in the semi-finals on Tuesday, May 31 against Rowan College at Gloucester County (NJ) made them eligible for the championship game against Tyler Junior College, which they lost in a close and hard fought 3-4 battle.
“I have never seen a team play with such heart and soul,” said Sue MacAvoy, the college’s longtime athletic director. “This is such a great group of young men, and they pulled off quite a feat.”
Three Northern Essex players– Colby Maiola of North Reading (outfield), Evan Glew of North Andover (pitcher) and Jordan Roper (infield/outfield) of Lynnfield were named to All-Tournament team.
The team includes Brahiam Ortega of Lawrence; Jordan Roper of Lynnfield; Traverse Briana of Lynnfield; Keith Linnane of North Reading; Dave Brindamour of Georgetown; John Sirois of Merrimac; Evan Glew of North Andover; Christian Balbuena of Lawrence, Colby Maiola of North Reading; James Foley of North Reading, Nicholas Bruno of Lynnfield; Robert Barry of Merrimac; Mark Sicard of Methuen, Argeny Villa of Lawrence; Matthew Marquez of Salem MA; Gianni Esposito of Peabody; Ellido Reyes of Lynn; Xavier Nunez of Lowell, and Anthony Dally of Lowell.
The Knights had a 22-14 season record and they swept Massasoit Community College in the Region 21 best-of-3 tournament, earning a spot in the World Series line-up.
Northern Essex offers seven varsity sports teams including baseball, softball, women’s basketball, men’s basketball, track & field, and volleyball. NECC’s philosophy is that the classroom experience is what makes a well-rounded athlete.