Talladega continues its mastery over Edward Waters defeating its arch-rival 9-7 in dramatic fashion in the 2017 Association of Independent Institution (A.I.I.) Baseball Championship Semifinal for the second time since the start of the tournament. The win secures Talladega’s selection in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) Baseball National Championship Opening Round event scheduled for May 15 – 18.
Edward Waters, behind 3-0, scored two-runs in the third inning on Juan Bracamonte’s two run homerun making it a 3-2 ball-game. The Tigers tacked on four more runs in the fourth inning and another in the bottom of the fifth inning for a 7-3 lead.
Talladega’s six-run sixth inning helped erase an EWC 7-3 lead. Edward Waters’ Kelcey Bradley, who came in to relieve freshmen starter Julio Flores in the fourth-inning, started the inning off by walking Talladega’s Ryan Ramirez. A fielding error by EWC shortstop Jordan Pontious (fifth in the tournament) put two on base with one out. Jesus Zapata’s single loaded the bases, Wilkin Louis reached base on a fielder’s choice to second. Bradley walked the next batter Emilio Martinez to load bases for a second time in the inning. Denver Ripley then replace Bradley at pitcher. On a 3-1 count, Talladega’s Hamlet Flores torched Ripley with a massive grand slam over the left field fence to give the Tornadoes the 9-7 lead for good.
After Hamlet Flores bases clearing homerun, the umpires immediately ejected two Talladega players. Emotions were running high between both teams as words were being exchanged throughout the game. During the fourth inning, home plate umpire warned both dugouts. The umpires did a good job to control game.
Talladega starter Kyle Chavez (A.I.I. Conference Pitcher of The Year) came in to relieve starter Manuel Caballero and picked up the win, his second of the tournament all against EWC. Chavez threw four scoreless innings for the victory.
In the A.I.I. tournament, Edward Waters was fighting its way out of the loser’s bracket after it’s opening round game to Talladega 7-5. Playing with resilience, the Tigers won the next two ballgames against Fisher college 8-2 and the College of The Ozarks 5-0 before today’s heart breaking emotional loss.
Edward Waters went with freshmen starter Julio Flores who was shaky in his 4 2/3 innings pitched. Head Coach Reginald Johnson elected sophomore LHP Denver Ripley in relief. Before Flores dramatic tape measured shot, Talladega players instructed Flores to jump on Ripley’s next pitch citing “he’s not ready for prime time.”
Talladega Kyle Chavez was lights out in the tournament. He controlled EWC with his sidearm delivery keeping hitters off-balance with both his sinker and slider. Chavez had Tiger hitters chasing pitches out of the strike zone.
Talladega advances to the A.I.I. championship game which carries a automatic selection to the NAIA National Tournament. The conference champion and the second place finisher qualify for the tournament. They then await for remaining opening round qualifiers, brackets and host sites which will be announced May 11.