Heath Hood’s return from injury helps propel TJC to national title along with MVP Vega

Local Sports

TYLER, Texas (KETK) – After returning to the summit of the junior college baseball world, the TJC Apaches are back in the Rose City as the school held a little reception for them Friday morning.

Tyler won the program’s sixth national championship Wednesday, all of which have come in the last 14 years, although this was their first since 2017.

So was it the return of the dynasty?

Or simply, a dynasty reaffirmed.

Even as at-large invite, TJC swept through its four world series games in Greeneville, Tenn., winning two of them in blowout fashion.

“We went down there and knowing that we were the best team of country. And if we play our baseball, there’s nobody, nobody around that could beat us,” said Apaches first baseman and NJCAA Division 3 World Series MVP Miguel Vega.

“As a coach, all I felt was that we just need an opportunity. Obviously we’ve been on mission all year long, but I wanted them to be determined to get what they wanted out of that tournament. And, they certainly showed that each and every day they took the field,” said Tyler eleventh-year head coach Doug Wren.

The Apaches success was thanks in part to having outfielder Heath Hood back from a broken foot.

The White Oak alum was superb, going 10 of 16 for the tournament, with five extra base hits including two home runs, and seven RBI’s.

“Put in a lot of hard work, those six weeks I was out. So first time in the box, I was seeing it well, and it felt good,” said Hood.

“You saw what we were missing over the last six weeks. And it takes nothing away from the rest of our team, but Heath is the heartbeat. He’s the glue that, that, that keeps this whole thing together. I just knew having him back in the lineup would give our guys a lift,” Wren explained.

“Heath Hood makes baseball look very easy, you know, coming off of that big break. it was a blast and it helped our lineup so much,” said Vega.

But in the clutch, it was the catalyst that delivered.

Down a run in the title game in the bottom of the eighth inning, the Brook Hill alum Vega hit what will now forever be remembered as an iconic two-run shot that put the Apaches in front to stay.

“It was the best feeling in the world. I kind of blacked out there for a minute, but, once I got back into the dugout, it was just a sigh of relief to me and coach Wren were right before that bet talking about my approach. And then, when I got up there, he worked right into my plan and I got the pitch that I wanted. And I was able to put a good swing on it,” Vega a Northwestern State signee described.

“He did a fantastic job of, of hitting a pitch that, that, uh, is not easy,” said Wren. “It was a storybook ending to a storybook season.”

With that long ball, Vega added to his single season school record with his 21st homerun of the season.

The apaches ended their campaign at 40-15. The title marks the 65th overall national crown for TJC all-time.

Watch the video to see the story.

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