The ability to produce a winning team year in and year out within the junior college ranks has many obstacles, with one of the main issues being a different roster nearly every season due to student-athletes coming and going as they use community college as a stepping stone to the next level.
Despite that, the Brunswick Community College (BCC) baseball team is in the middle of an unprecedented run over the last few years. The team added another tally to the chalkboard with its berth to the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Division II World Series following a dominating performance at the Southeast Regional Tournament.
Building camaraderie among teammates is the foundation for any quality program and the days, weeks and months of off-season training helps develop those ballplayers into athletes who know what it takes to compete for a championship.
For the three local athletes on the Dolphins’ ball club, teamwork and hard work were a pair of phrases that came up often when describing their experiences through their memorable run this spring.
“I’ve really bought in to Coach [Robbie] Allen, this program and this school as a whole,” said BCC sophomore and former Trask High School standout Andrew Chomiczewski. “Coach Allen is a man of faith, wisdom and hard work that not only cares about the game, but cares about each and every one of us. I can’t thank him enough for what he’s done for me and this team.”
Second-year outfielder Markel Jones has earned an opportunity to play Division I baseball at Campbell University beginning this fall. Ever since Jones came out of West Brunswick High School, the raw talent and speed were glaring attributes that, when polished, were going to help any college club.
While things didn’t pan out as he would have liked during fall workouts freshman year at N.C. State, Jones never got down and continued to put in the work. After transferring to Louisburg College and playing one season for the Hurricanes, Jones returned home and took last year off, but refused to let the circumstances get in the way of his passion to be successful on the field.
Jones has shined as a sophomore for BCC, leading the team with a .411 batting average. He also has a team-high 10 homeruns, 52 RBIs and 21 stolen bases.
Chomiczewski went through plenty of trials and tribulations to get to this point after graduating from Trask. Through injuries and learning the ins and outs of what it takes to be a college student-athlete, he’s in a good place heading to the NJCAA World Series.
“We had a great season full of ups and downs,” Chomiczewski added. “We started off slow, but it’s all about how you finish. I’m thankful for the opportunity I’ve had to be a part of something so special.”
Chomiczeski is heading to Pfieffer University after the season’s over to continue his college career and education. He credits the lessons learned during his time at BCC to helping him achieve his individual goals, too.
Former Hoggard standout Julian Blackburn is the third Wilmington-area ball player preparing for the trip to the national tournament. Like many college athletes, Blackburn has gone through a learning curve in his rookie year, but the left-handed hurler has passed the test with flying colors as a key contributor on the Dolphins’ pitching staff.
“Coach Allen always said there will never be a time you are as good as you can get playing baseball,” Blackburn said. “The first season playing college ball has been a really amazing experience. We never did anything more but stay as a team through the highs and lows this season.”
Blackburn is second on the team in innings pitched (54.2). In seven starts, he has a 6-1 record, with two complete games and a 3.13 ERA. During his last outing on May 13, Blackburn allowed two runs on three hits in seven innings of work.
The winning attitude Allen has been able to instill in his players has paid dividends for his program. BCC’s appearance in the national showcase will be the team’s second trip in recent history. The Dolphins are 40-16 overall.
During the course of the regional tournament, BCC scored 57 runs in four games, including a dominating 22-9 result in the title game against Patrick Henry Community College. The Dolphins became the second of eight eventual teams to clinch a spot in the national event set for May 28-June 4 at David Allen Memorial Ballpark in Enid, Oklahoma.
More than half of the team’s 16 sophomores have already landed an opportunity to play Division I or II baseball next year.