Ex-Lowcountry stars play big role in Pioneers’ success

Former Lowcountry standouts Jimmy Lindberg (left) and Josh Escoffier helped lead Spartanburg Methodist to the Junior College World Series in Grand Junction, Colo.

Lowcountry native Josh Escoffier had a unique experience when he threw snowballs nearly 10,000 feet above sea level in the Rocky Mountains.

But Escoffier’s trip to Colorado last month wasn’t all about pleasure. He is a pitcher for Spartanburg Methodist College, and he was on a business mission. His team played in the Junior College World Series, which was held in Grand Junction, Colo., and he got to perform on JUCO’s biggest stage.

The Pioneers came up a little short in their bid for the title. But a third-place finish and a 48-15 record for the season gave Escoffier something to smile about, especially because he’s only a freshman and had a big role in his team’s journey out west.

“It was crazy. It was a great experience,” said Escoffier, a relief pitcher who played high school baseball for Tom Hatley at James Island Charter. “There were so many wonderful experiences off the field, and, of course, there was the World Series. To play in front of 8,000-9,000 fans was something I’ll remember.”

Escoffier came in for the first game of the World Series and threw 78 pitches and was credited with the victory. Escoffier, a workhorse known by the nickname “Everyday E” was one of 10 Pioneers pitchers who performed in the World Series. He led the staff with 71/3 innings of work in the five games.

“We came in with a lot of momentum,” Escoffier said. “But we hit a bump in the road.

“We can get back here next year if we can come up with a couple of replacements.”

Escoffier pitched in 18 games his freshman season and allowed 47 hits in 391/3 innings, striking out 28. He was second on the team with five saves. He will play at SMC next spring and hopes to end up at either the University of South Carolina or the College of Charleston.

Escoffier isn’t the only local pitcher who had a big role in the Pioneers’ success. Jimmy Lindberg, a former Bishop England standout, was 7-2. He had 52 strikeouts in 721/3 innings and compiled a 3.11 ERA. He won Game 2 of the World Series.

Former Summerville star Matt White also had a productive season. He was fourth on the team with a .333 batting average. He collected four doubles, four triples and drove in 33 runs.

The local pipeline should continue next year. Bishop England catcher Cameron Garrett, Fort Dorchester pitcher/infielder Ryan Boyle and James Island infielder Christian Dorothy will continue their careers in Spartanburg.