SIAC CHAMPIONS! Late Inning Heroics Nets Tigers First SIAC Title In Program History

Senior right fielder Ferante Cowart’s grand slam in the bottom half of the eighth inning sparked #3 seed Edward Waters to a 10-5 come-from-behind victory over #4 seed Savannah State, capturing the program’s first SIAC Baseball Championship in history in the Championship Round of the 2024 Cricket SIAC Baseball Championship, Sunday afternoon at the Albany State West Campus Baseball Complex.

With Savannah State (31-15, 21-12 SIAC) earlier bouncing #1 seed, host school, and regular season champion Albany State in an Elimination Game, SSU advanced to face their I-95 rivals in a Championship Round which would need to see them beat Edward Waters twice to win the title.

Savannah State raced out to an early lead in the top of the second on an RBI single, and added one more in the top of the third thanks to an RBI groundout to take a 2-0 advantage. Edward Waters (31-18, 21-11 SIAC) got on the board in the bottom of the third on Hugo Schoening’s two-RBI single down the right field line which tied the festivities up at 2-2.

SSU would surge ahead in the top of the fifth on an RBI sacrifice fly, but EWU would once again have a response in the bottom of the sixth thanks to Leonel Garcia’s RBI single to tie the game once again at 3-3. Savannah State took the advantage again in the top of the seventh inning courtesy of two RBI singles to nudge ahead at 5-3.

The Edward Waters bats were stymied for much of the contest, but the offensive floodgates opened in a major way in the bottom of the eighth inning. Torry Jones earned a pinch hit RBI on a bases loaded walk to bring the Tigers within a run at 5-4. Erickson Matos also earned an unconventional RBI after being hit by a pitch with bases loaded to tie the contest at 5-5.  Then with one out in the inning, Cowart sent a pitcher over the left center field wall for a grand slam to give EWU a 9-5 lead. John Nobles would later add an insurance run on an RBI fielder’s choice that gave EWU a 10-5 lead.

Freshman Elvin Polanco was then called to pitch the top of the ninth and was able to engineer the final three outs needed to give Edward Waters their first conference title since the 2015 Gulf Coast Athletic Conference regular season championship and first postseason conference title since the 2011 Association of Independent Institutions championship.

Anthony Roman would lead Edward Waters at the dish, going 2-for-3 with a run scored, but Cowart’s grand slam would lead EWU in RBI’s with four. The win on the mound would go to Polanco who came on in relief, allowing three hits and striking out one. Starter Austin James went 5.0 innings, scattering seven hits, allowing three earned runs, two walks, and struck out two.

Due to EWU being in the final year of their three-year transition to the NCAA from the NAIA, Savannah State will earn the SIAC’s automatic bid to the NCAA Division II Baseball Tournament. Edward Waters will next turn their attentions to the 2024 Black College World Series which will take place May 8th-11th at Riverwalk Stadium in Montgomery, Alabama.

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