Posted: 5:33 pm Tuesday, May 14th, 2013

J.D Underwood pitches Palm Beach State to junior college state title 

By Matt Porter

For the first time in 29 years, Palm Beach State is the champion of Florida junior college baseball.

After losing in the state final last season, the Panthers returned to Joker Marchant Stadium in Lakeland and finished the job, beating State College of Florida, Bradenton-Manatee 3-0 in the National Junior College Athletics Association Region 8 final. They advance to the NJCAA Division I World Series, which begins May 25 in Grand Junction, Colo.

It’s the Lake Worth school’s first state title since 1984, when the team was known as the Palm Beach Junior College Pacers and future major leaguer Dante Bichette was its star.

This year, the Panthers (38-19) leaned on sophomore right-hander J.D. Underwood. Pitching on three days rest, Florida’s junior college pitcher of the year delivered a shutout on Tuesday, allowing nine hits, walking one and striking out two. It was his seventh complete game in his last eight starts.

Underwood, the son of former major league Tom Underwood, a Palm Beach Gardens alum and a Miami signee, tossed his glove in the sky and was mobbed by his teammates after ending the game on a groundout.

“It’s unbelievable. We had all the motivation in the world from watching the dog pile last year,” said Underwood, who was named pitcher of the tournament after going 2-0 with a 1.00 ERA in two complete games.

First baseman Ryan Church (Santaluces), who went 9-for-19 (.473) in nine games, was named MVP.

The Panthers went ahead 1-0 on a fourth-inning RBI single by shortstop Marcus Mooney (Seminole Ridge). They grabbed two insurance runs with two outs in the eighth on RBI singles by catcher Jon Corbitt (Jupiter) and left fielder Matt Mulroy (West Boca Raton).

In the first round of the World Series, they will face the winner of the Alabama-based Southeastern region, at 9 a.m. May 25. The Southeastern tournament concludes Thursday. Click here to view the bracket.