Edward Waters College and Talladega College face off in Talladega, Alabama, this weekend. The two Gulf Coast Atlantic Conference (GCAC) rivals play each other like it’s a playoff atmosphere each and every year. Both Edward Waters and Talladega, two of HBCU Baseball small school powerhouses, generally decide the conference champion.
Last season, Talladega won seven of eight games from the Tigers including winning two games in the A.I.I. conference tournament, thus knocking the Tigers out while advancing to the NAIA National Tournament. The Tornados finished last season 36-25 while EWC was 35-24 as both finished ranked in Black College Nines (BCN) top ten final poll.
An early season test could determine the Gulf Coast Athletic Conference (GCAC) and (A of II) national seeding when the conference tournament starts in May. Both teams are contenders for the conference title and hope to get into a position to be invited to the NAIA National Tournament.
Offensively, the Tigers of EWC are off to a slow start. They are banged up with the injury bug. But they are also struggling to score runs with runners in scoring position. The Tigers (7-8) HBCU (BCN) preseason All-Elite Team pick, Jordan Pontious’ numbers are way down, hitting a mere .286… a far cry from this time last season hitting .462.
On the mound, the Tigers are led by sophomore Jonathan Radomski (2-1) 2.66 earned run average and freshmen Kamau Richardson, sporting a 1.46 earned run average in 24.2 innings pitched. Both will be called upon against preseason small school No. 1 Talladega. (The first regular season Black College Nines HBCU Baseball top ten poll will be released on March 14, 2018).
Talladega (8-6) is a good hitting team. The Tornados feature Julian Fitts .467 batting average and Jorge Rodriquez is hitting .326.
On the pitching side, Talladega boasts the arms of Bryan Garcia (1-0) 1.29 earned run average, Louis Wilkin (1-0) ERA of 1.50 and Daniel Castillo (2-1) against one of the tougest nonconference schedules in HBCU baseball. Talladega knocked off No. 13 Tennessee Wesleyan this season and still has remaining games against top ranked Faulkner, Georgia Gwinnett, Tennessee Wesleyan and Mobile besides its remaining conference games with foe Edward Waters.
Saturday afternoon could feature a matchup of impressive starters when Edward Waters’ Radomski, a fiery competitor, is expected to take on Talladega’s hard-throwing Bryan Garcia. If both are on top of their games, pitching could decide the outcome for both ball clubs.
Edward Waters enters into the contest having won its last two ball-games agaist Morehouse College. Talladega enters into the contest being swept by Faulkner University the preseason No. 1 team in the NAIA top 25.
This match up will be closely followed for BNC top ten small school pollcasters. Talladega is currently ranked No. 1 and Edward Waters ranked No. 3 in the preseason BCN top ten poll and this series should have a national implication for both teams in the first regular season Black College Nines poll rankings.