Over the weekend, many HBCU small schools kicked off the 2018 season. We’ve been waiting months for this time to arrive and this past weekend most small school teams saw action… meaning the baseball season is here!
With the 2018 season, Black College Nines looks to provide even more coverage beginning with the start of the HBCU small school division action. Who will be the top dogs in HBCU baseball? Who will sit atop of their respective conference in the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SIAC), Gulf Coast Athletic Conference (GCAC), Red River Athletic Conference (RRAC), independents in the United State Collegiate Athletic Association (USCAA), Association of Independent Institutions (A.I.I.) and DII independents.
A slew of non-conference and conference match-ups begin the weekend action. As I’ve stated before, “college baseball is really about four seasons – the non-conference schedule, the conference schedule, the postseason including the conference tournament and if it is really good, a national tournament.”
As the small school season gets underway, the question is what’s in store for 2018?
Opening day got underway for Harris Stowe State University with a four game Texas swing doing a Texas two stepper. On Friday, Harris-Stowe swept two from Texas College 14-9 and 19-3 and then split a double header with Jarvis Christian on Saturday winning 5-4 before losing game two, 8-7. Going 3-1 on its first trip south is big considering they had more indoor practices than outdoors to start the season. Following the game, the bus ride back was loud because they were doing freshman karaoke.
Claflin University visited St. Thomas University in Miami, Florida. Friday’s game one starter, senior Elijah McKinnis lasted 1.0 inning giving up 4 runs on three hits. Head Coach James Randle went with a freshman line up in relief on the mound to give first year players the feel for the collegiate game. The Panthers were defeated by the score of 14-1. In Saturday’s doubleheader, game one was much of the same with freshmen seeing action on the hill, losing 14-4. In spite of the fact that coach Randle went with a veteran line up, they were swept in the series final 3-1, but the team was more competitive and had a chance to win the ball game.
Talladega College capped off what was certainly a weekend to remember as Black College Nines (BCN) preseason HBCU small school No.1 team held off a tough Tougaloo College for a 5-4 victory and a three-game sweep in Saturday’s 3-2 and 7-2 wins. Talladega has one of the best HBCU school offenses in the country and with its pitching, put the college baseball nation on notice.
Miles College used a six-run sixth inning to wipe out a five-run deficit in a 13-9 win over former SIAC Conference foe Stillman College Friday afternoon. It was the home opener for the Golden Bears (2-1) and the season opener for the Tigers (0-1). Saturday’s contest was much the same. Stillman jumped all over the Golden Bears for seven runs in the second inning, only to let Miles chip away for a 13-12 victory in the first-game of the scheduled doubleheader. Miles broke out the brooms sweeping Stillman 5-4, completing a series win. Star of the series, Miles Jacob Schuster allowed seven hits and three earned runs, striking out four during his complete game.
Virginia State University took advantage of the Salem University baseball team which toiled on the mound, blowing big leads in a pair of 10-9 losses to VSU in a season opening double header Saturday afternoon. The game time temperature of 28 degrees may have played a huge part. Both games featured wild momentum shifts in the span of an inning and ended in extra-inning, walk-off fashion. Salem’s Mateo Gill blasted a three-run homerun to left field in a five-run sixth inning for a 7-1 lead. Salem gave up six runs in the bottom of the sixth inning to knot the score at 7-7 before Virginia State won 13-12.