Story by Scott Barker, Mobile Athletics
MOBILE, Ala. – Former University of Mobile baseball players, JC Romero and Joe Espada, were part of the Puerto Rico national baseball team that took second-place at the 2017 World Baseball Classic.
The World Baseball Classic (WBC) is an international baseball tournament, which started in 2006, by the International Baseball Federation (IBAF) and after 2013 was sanctioned by the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC).
“To see two of the best players to come through this program, play in one of baseball’s biggest stages is incredible,” said University of Mobile’s head baseball coach Mike Jacobs.
Romero pitched in Wednesday’s championship game against the USA, allowing one hit in the 8-0 loss to USA.
“JC spent 14 years in the major leagues and he dedicated himself to the game of baseball and I’m sure it was very rewarding for JC to be able to pitch and represent his country,” said Jacobs.
Puerto Rico went 7-1 in the tournament, including a 3-1 victory over defending World Baseball Classic Champion, Dominican Republic.
For the tournament, Romero gave up one hit, no walks, no strikeouts and no runs in one inning of work.
He tossed a perfect inning in a 13-2 win over Venezuela in the teams third game of the second round, in San Diego, Calif.
“It was the most amazing experience I’ve ever had in my career,” said Romero. “We used the game of baseball, as a platform, to uplift an entire island that was and still is, going through a very difficult time.”
Joe Espada, current third-base coach for the New York Yankees, served in the same position for the team.
“It’s a great feeling and honor having the opportunity to represent my country,” said Espada. “Watching our players come together and play for the name on the front of their jersey, not the one on their backs, was a thrill of a lifetime.”
Espada was selected in the second round (45th overall) in the 1996 Major League Baseball draft, by the Oakland Athletics. To this date, Espada is the highest draft pick from the University of Mobile baseball program.
“Both JC and Joe have a passion for this University and they always give back to the program,” said Jacobs. “They both have a love for the University and want to help the baseball team be successful.”
It makes the entire Ram Nation proud to see two former Rams having such a huge impact on the game of baseball,” said University of Mobile Associate Athletic Director Kris Nelson. “Joe and JC stay connected to the program and continue to influence current players year after year.”