Chargers celebrate.

GHC Chargers go ‘All In’ at JUCO World Series and bring home sportsmanship award

The Georgia Highlands College (GHC) men’s baseball team will go down in history books as the college’s first team to make it to the JUCO World Series, held last week in Grand Junction, Colo. While the team did not win the series, they went strong with an initial 3-game winning streak in the series followed by two close losses to Northwest Florida and Blinn, earning a spot in the quarterfinals. 

Head Coach Dash O’Neill and GHC received the first-ever Debbie Hamilton “All-In” award in honor of the late Debbie Hamilton, wife of JUCO Chairman Jamie Hamilton.   

“To be the recipient of this award in honor of this incredible woman and in its inaugural year is the highlight of my career,” O’Neill said. “Debbie was an amazing example of not only being ‘all in’ in her support of the JUCO World Series and her community, but also of how crucial it is to have the loving support of spouses and loved ones behind the scenes. 

Charger at bat

The Chargers also brought home the Tillie Bishop Sportsmanship Award. O’Neill said this award helps prove his long-held belief that baseball is a place to learn things that cannot be taught in a classroom. 

“These young men didn’t just show up to Grand Junction to play a game – they made an impact on everyone they encountered,” O’Neill said. “They played catch with local kids on the field even after we’d been eliminated. They adopted (and were adopted by) the Challenger athletes they were blessed enough to work with. They were humble and respectful and acted with great class in everything they did while we were out here, and as a coach, there is nothing that could give me greater pride.”   

He said the trip to Grand Junction represents much more than baseball and accolades and shows how the Charger community can come together to help raise money for student-athletes to compete at the highest level while experiencing a unique travel opportunity. 

Chargers celebrate

“Our college leadership and community provided the resources we needed to bring a group of 40 young men who love each other on the trip of a lifetime. Some of them flew on a plane for the first time. Most of them saw the Rocky Mountains and real snow for the first time. They got to go across the Colorado National Monument together, and yes, they got a chance to compete for a national championship,” O’Neill said. “Along the way, they forged friendships with people like little Olive – a Challenger athlete who attended every game and made a scrapbook of her experiences with our team. They were swarmed by hundreds of kids seeking autographs and a few minutes of their time.”  

He continued, “Best of all, they set an example for leadership, humility and teamwork that inspired the people of Grand Junction and proved to people all over the country that this little team out of north Georgia is truly one of the most special groups in the entire nation.” 

Chargers at the dugout.

The team has received considerable media attention. Check out these great stories: 


Chargers earn walk-off win to advance to world series 

Source: The Rome News-Tribune May 30, 2024 


The game of the tournament and more 

Source: Yahoo Sports - May 30, 2024 


The Georgia Highlands Chargers take in the Grand Mesa 

Source: KKCO 11 News – May 24, 2024 


JUCO Day 5 Recap: The game of the tournament and more 

Source: KREX-TV Online – May 30, 2024 


“Best baseball game I’ve ever been a part of” Georgia Highlands walks off Blinn 15-14 in JUCO classic 

Source: The Daily Sentinel Online - May 30, 2024 


GHC Chargers earn first trip to NJCAA World Series 

Source: The Daily Tribune News 

Also seen here: 

Group of Chargers

JUCO World Series Recap 

(Photos and copy provided by the official Alpine Bank JUCO World Series website and Facebook page): 


The JUCO World Series title game was played between Blinn College Buccaneers and the Northwest Florida Raiders on Saturday, June 1, with Blinn winning 12-5. 

On Friday, March 31, the Chargers played Blinn, losing 15-10. The Chargers scored four runs in the second inning to take a 4-1 lead, sending 10 men to the plate and stringing together four straight hits, three singles and a double, but as they’ve done all week, the Bucs responded. 

They put up eight runs in the top of the third, with Climie hitting a two-run home run and Caden Ferraro following with a solo shot over the scoreboard. A dozen men went to the plate, scoring the eight runs on eight hits. 

A four-spot by Highlands in the fifth made it 11-9, but Connor McGinnis came through with a two-run single after Tavion Vaughns drew a bases-loaded walk.


On Thursday, March 30, the Chargers initially lost their undefeated streak in the JUCO World Series to the Northwest Florida Raiders. 

Northwest Florida (40-14, 4-1 JUCO) received the bye into the championship game based on playing the most games in the tournament, five. Blinn and Georgia Highlands (56-9, 3-1 JUCO) hade each played four. 

Eight of the nine Northwest Florida starters got at least one hit, with Cayden Gaskin going 3 for 5 and Maduro going 3 for 4. Hubbard had three RBI, hitting two home runs. Jaquae Stewart also hit a home run, his third of the tournament for the Raiders, a team that has turned heads with its speed, but can also hit for power. Northwest Florida has outscored its opponents 65-21 this week. 

Grayson Godbee hit his second home run of the tournament for the Chargers. 

Trip Dovale took the loss for the Chargers, allowing 13 runs on 15 hits through 5.1 innings. He was on the brink of coming out of the game before Sadler’s key at-bat, but Georgia Highlands coach Dash O’Neill elected to stay with him. He struck out six and walked five. 


On Wednesday, May 29, Charger Ryan Martin delivered the knockout blow in a punch-counterpunch game of the final two undefeated teams in the Alpine Bank Junior College World Series, delivering Georgia Highlands a 15-14 victory over Blinn College. 

The Chargers (56-8, 3-0 JUCO) saw their 13-11 lead disappear in the top of the ninth, but Barrett Eldridge drew a leadoff walk in the bottom of the inning. 

Martin sent the second pitch he saw from Ben Bosse deep into the night, a towering shot that hit the light pole on the way up for the walk-off winner. 

It sent the Chargers into a frenzy as they met Martin at the plate, then stamped their nameplate on the bracket board, putting them into the championship semifinal at 7 p.m. Thursday against Northwest Florida State. Blinn (44-17, 2-1 JUCO) faces Florence-Darlington at 2 p.m. for a chance to play for the title. 

The final rally happened after the Buccaneers had come back from allowing a five-run inning in the bottom of the eighth to lose its 11-8 lead. A fielding error led to two runs for the Chargers, and Ryan Wideman delivered a two-run single to give Georgia Highlands a 13-11 advantage. 

With two on and one out in the top of the ninth, Blinn’s Brandon Bishop doubled down the third-base line, driving in both runners, and took third on a throwing error, tying the game at 13-13. The umpires conferred and ruled that the ball did pass over the third base bag before it landed in foul territory. A sacrifice fly by Coy DeFury put the Buccaneers on top again, 14-13, before Martin’s winning blast. 

Earlier in the game, balls were flying out of Suplizio Field — Caden Ferraro hit a three-run shot for Blinn in the Bucs’ five-run third inning, and the Chargers hit five. Luke Orfi, Wideman, Eldridge and Ali Banks all left the yard before Martin’s walk-off, but in the later innings, the ball wasn’t carrying as well. 

Wideman, Eldridge and Banks each drove in three runs for Georgia Highlands, which is attempting to win its first NJCAA Division I baseball title in its first trip to Grand Junction. 

Kyle Stephenson got the victory with one inning of relief. 


On Monday, May 27, the Chargers erupted for six runs in the sixth inning and knocked off top-ranked and top-seeded Johnson County Community College 10-1 in a run-rule game. 

Georgia Highlands, ranked No. 2 and seeded No. 4 in the JUCO World Series, playing in front of 10,691 fans at Suplizio Field, broke a scoreless tie on Grayson Godbee’s leadoff home run in the fifth inning that bounced off a row of bleachers in the outfield stands. With two out, Luke Orfi hit a towering shot over the left-field wall for a 2-0 lead. 

The Cavaliers (53-12, 1-1 JUCO) got one run back in the bottom of the inning on Kyle Hepburn’s RBI triple to left-center after Miken Miller singled. 

In the sixth, however, the Chargers, making their appearance in the Junior College World Series, sent 11 men to the plate, scoring six runs on five hits and two Johnson County errors. 

The first run came home on some heads-up base running on a throwing error by pitcher Ryan Borberg attempting to pick Ryan Wideman off second. Wideman not only advanced to third but never slowed down, scoring as the ball went into the outfield. Ali Banks delivered a two-run double and Wideman added a run-scoring single in the inning. 

Two runs in the seventh pushed the lead to 10-1 and Michel Sharman wrapped up the compete game by retiring three of the four men he faced in the bottom half of the inning, walking one batter with two out, but then coming back with his fifth strikeout of the game Sharman allowed one run on seven hits, walked two and threw 117 pitches, 81 for strikes. 

Orfi had three of Georgia Highlands’ hits and Clay Wiesen, Martin and Godbee drove in two runs each. Johnson County’s Hepburn came a home run shy of hitting for the cycle, collecting three of the Cavaliers’ seven hits. 


On Saturday, May 25, an early defensive battle ended in a 5-1 victory for Georgia Highlands in game one of the Alpine Bank Junior College Baseball World Series. 

Both pitchers for #2 Georgia Highlands (54-8, 1-0 JUCO) and #17 McLennan (43-18, 0-1 JUCO) were efficient in the early inning. However, in the bottom of the fourth inning, Ryan Wideman scored the first run of the tournament with a solo homerun to left center. In the top of the fifth, McLennan answered with a solo shot to right center by Sam Flores. 

In the fifth, Georgia Highlands took a 2-1 lead on a Luke Orfi double to center. They would add an additional run in the sixth off a Ryan Martin single up the middle. The Chargers would add a pair of insurance runs in the eighth on a bases loaded walk issued to Grayson Godbee and an RBI single by Ali Banks. 


Read more stats about the Chargers’ during the JUCO World Series on the official Alpine Bank JUCO World Series website and Facebook page.