By Michael Coker/Black College Nines
An exciting pitchers’ duel this past Wednesday afternoon, as the Talladega Tornados topped Edward Waters’ baseball team in the Gulf Coast Athletic Conference (GCAC) championship game 4-0.
EWC (34-22, 13-2 GCAC) Frederick Belz and Talladega (30-25, 10-4 GCAC) Matt Holland both battled it out on the mound, as both leftie pitchers allowed just one run through the first seven innings.
The lone tally came in the third inning. Talladega Michael Schofield hits a triple, scored on Austin Drummond’s sacrifice fly to the right fielder Jose Visaez.
This was a classic pitcher’s duel between each team’s ace pitchers. Neither team gave in. Good defensive plays by both teams. The eighth inning was the decisive one for the Tornados.
Back-to-back doubles by Austin Drummonds and Jean Marmol gave Talladega 2-0 lead. Marmol advances to third on a throwing error by the Tigers right fielder Jose Visaez.
Talladega had one base runner, with one out, before the emotional action ensued. Talladega designated hitter Hector Corona blast a two run Homerun, Marmol scores making it 4-0.
EWC mounted an attempted comeback with two on-bases in the bottom of the ninth, Ricardo Mateo hits a line drive to the right fielder for an out. Game Over.
EWC had their chances like they did all season. They were the surprised Historically Black College and University (HBCU) baseball program across the nation this season. But on this day they ran into a well-coached team led by Talladega head baseball coach Wil Ramos.
Talladega finish the 2014 season with 39-20 record and went to the NAIA National Tournament Opening Round. The Tornadoes had six returning starters from last year’s team, ranked in the top NAIA Preseason and Coaches’ Poll.
The Tornadoes, led by a strong senior class that’s been with the program for four years.
Talladega faced eight of the top NAIA 2015 Baseball Coaches’ Top 25. # 1 Faulkner, #6 Georgia Gwinnett, #15 Auburn Montgomery, #18 Campbellville, #19 Embry-Riddle, #21 Point Park and #22 Mobile.
“They have one goal for the 2015 season, making the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics World Series” and they did.
Talladega pitching silenced Edward Waters bats for the second time in this tournament as the Tornadoes claimed their second consecutive Gulf Coast Athletic Conference baseball tournament championship and an automatic bid in the NAIA National Tournament Opening Round.
Talladega coach Wil Ramos stated “Matt Holland had his curve ball working, kept Edward Waters off balance. He’s a senior, been with the program for four years. His leadership was evident on the field”. Click to listen to audio behind 00:00
Holland got the shutout win for the Tornadoes throwing all nine innings yielding no runs on eight hits.
EWC Head Coach Reginald Johnson, II his Tigers were looking to contend for a GCAC and NAIA National Championship. EWC featured a combination of 9 freshmen, 10 sophomore, 6 juniors and 4 seniors improve following a 2014 campaign that resulted in a 24-27 overall record.
EWC disheartening loss at Talladega is in the rearview mirror. The Tigers didn’t play a perfect season, but they packaged timely hits with strong pitching performance the entire year.
The Tigers won 34 games this year second most wins in program history. With the 2015 season concluded. Coach Johnson has Tiger baseball primed to make a post-season run in 2016, returning eight starters from this year’s team.
The questions, how will Tiger nation replace the bats of Jesse Baker? Click to listen to audio behind 00:00
Baker was the heart and soul of the offense. Led the GCAC in nearly every offensive category and voted conference most value player. Completed his collegiate career .425 batting average, 16 Home-runs and 70 runs batted in. All in the top ten NAIA season stats.