Coach Tommy Hernandez, Dallas Tigers return to Connie Mack World Series

By: Luke White

The state of Texas will be well-represented at the AABC Connie Mack World Series this year, as the Dallas Tigers will return to Farmington, N.M., for the first time since their victory in 2016.

Established in 1965, the Connie Mack World Series attracts some of the top select baseball programs across the country for a weeklong event at the historic Ricketts Park, with this year’s tournament is set for July 22-30. The event has hosted hundreds of MLB alumni, such as Ken Griffey Jr., Randy Johnson and Derek Jeter.

The Tigers, coached by owner Tommy Hernandez, won the qualifying tournament after a 7-2 showing against a field of 22 teams. According to Hernandez, each 2022 graduate on the team has pledged to play collegiate baseball, with many 2023 graduates already committed as well. Notable players include Jared Thomas, a Texas commit, Jayson Jones, an Arkansas pledge and Trenton Shaw, an Oklahoma State signee.

This summer’s trip to the tournament isn’t Hernandez’s first rodeo, as the former All-SWC third baseman at Texas Tech has previously led teams to the event three times in his coaching career spanning 29 years.

“It’s a great event for the kids and a great experience for them,” Hernandez said. “I’m happy that the boys took charge and fought through the heat last week to advance.”

The Tigers’ path to qualifying for the event was far from easy, with the team playing nine games over a span of six days. After four straight wins to begin the tournament, the team fell back to Earth with two losses in their next three games. However, the Tigers rattled off two consecutive victories by a combined three runs against Stix 2022 Prospects Black to win the qualifier.

“It took all of us,” Hernandez said. “We had a 24-man roster, and in one game, we used every position player in order to win. It was satisfying and gratifying. The boys left it all out there, and I’m really happy for them.”

Hernandez also spoke on how the team’s qualifying for the Connie Mack World Series was made possible through the team’s dynamic and the connection between the players, many of whom were in the system when the 2016 team won the tournament.

“We’ve had several kids on this roster since they were nine, ten, 12 years old, so there’s [a lot of] team chemistry and camaraderie,” Hernandez said. “This was a club victory. These kids love the club and are loyal to the club, and they should prove it this year.”

Renowned for its atmosphere and ambience, the Connie Mack World Series begins with two days of team festivities, including a welcome BBQ, parade, home run derby and opening ceremonies for the teams. Hernandez noted the experience of playing in the tournament, both as a coach and a fan.

“It’s a lot of fun against great competition,” Hernandez said. “People that have been to the College World Series say it’s basically a mini College World Series. [We’re] looking forward to it.”

Regardless of the setting or circumstances, Hernandez keeps a simple gameplan going into each contest, which he credits the team’s success to. For the Tigers, these games will be treated just like any other.

“Just like any ballgame, we need to be able to throw strikes, get hits and execute,” Hernandez said. “That’s what we’ve been doing in this club for years–doing the little things to advance.

“Our goal is to win the last game of the season and score one more run than the other team. “

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