In the fortieth game played in the last six years between Talladega College and Edward Waters College baseball programs, the Tornadoes of Talladega held on to beat Edward Waters 7-5 by holding off a late-game rally in the Association of Independent Institution (A.I.I.) 2017 Post-Season Baseball Tournament.
Talladega jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning on a throwing error by EWC shortstop Jordan Pontious as Talladege’s Jesus Zapata advanced to second base. Two infield ground outs plated Zapata for the first run of the ballgame.
Edward Waters had an opportunity to put some runs on the board in the top of the first inning as Juan Bracamonte tripled to right field after one out. However, the next two batters left Bracamonte stranded at third base.
EWC tied the game in the top of the third inning with a two out single up the middle and a stolen base by Bryan Rodriguez and a Juan Bracamonte hit driving home Rodriguez from second base.
Talladega added more runs in the bottom of the fourth inning as EWC Tiger starter Jonathan Rodomski fell apart after striking out the first batter he faced. Back-to-back walks by Emillo Martinez and Hamlet Flores, followed by back-to-back singles from Cameron Davis and Ryan Ramirez, plated two more runs.
Talladega scored another run in the fifth inning. Jesus Zapata singled through the right side, stole second and advanced to third on a throwing error by Edward Waters catcher Jonathan Jaime. Wilkin Louis drove home Zapata with a sacrifice fly to the right fielder Will Boggs taking a 4-1 lead.
The Tornadoes held the three-run lead all the way to the sixth inning when starter Kyle Chavez ran into trouble. Lead-off hitter Bryan Rodriguez tripled and scored on Juan Bracamonte’s double. Chavez retired the next two batters before issuing a walk to Carlos Cabrara. The next batter, Cayden Frankie doubled Bracamonte home, making it a 4-3 one run game.
Talladega extended its lead to 5-3 in the bottom of the sixth when Cameron Davis reached base on his second single of the ball game. Ryan Ramirez was hit by a Jonathan Rodomski pitch and the next batter, Manuel Caballero moved both runners with a sacrifice fly. Jorge Rodriguez then singled in Davis. Edward Waters head coach Reginald Johnson replaced Rodomski with Julio Flores who recorded the third out.
EWC tied the game 5-5 in the seventh inning. Tyler Rich reached base on a fielding error by the left fielder, Will Boggs’ bunt single chases Talladega starter Kyle Chavez, who was then replaced by reliever Brayan Marquez. A fielding error by Marquez on a batted ball from Bryan Rodriguez loaded the bases with no outs. Marquez walks Bracamonte forcing in a run. With the bases still loaded, a questionable balk was not called by the umpires. Marquez went to his mouth on the mound two different times and it appeared he received a subsequent warning from the home plate umpire. Marquez again went to his mouth for a third time in the inning, instead of a balk call, umpires warned Talladega which brought a protest from EWC’s Coach Johnson about the questionable balk not being called.
Edward Waters did push across one more run in the seventh inning, but squandered chances to take the lead.
Talladega added two more runs in the bottom of the seventh to lead 7-5 aided by Pontious second error of the game and another in the inning by third baseman Tyler Rich’s misplay of a routine grounder which open the flood gates for the two runs. In the eighth and ninth, Brayan Marquez stepped up and got the last six outs.
In total, EWC committed four errors that led to four unearned runs. Jonathan Rodomski 5 2/3 innings pitch gave up four earned runs. Talladega’s Kyle Chavez got the pitching victory and Brayan Marquez picked up the save. Talladega was able to scrape together just enough pitching to keep the lead and beat its conference rivals for a second time in the A.I.I. conference tournament dating back to last season when they eliminated the Tigers.
Edward Waters was missing its number one and two pitching starters because of Baccalaureate Graduation Ceremonies held in Jacksonville. They will rejoin the team Sunday.
Edward Waters will take on Fisher College in an elimination game tomorrow at 11 am. Talladega, also plays on Sunday, gets to avenge a March 28, 13-12 lost to No. 14 NAIA rank Georgia Gwinnett, the tournament host, which kept Talladega from receiving a Top 25 ranking in the NAIA. That game is slated for 3 pm.