On the heels of a nail-biting win in the season opener on Friday, the Talladega College Tornadoes put up 15 more runs in 14 innings on Saturday in a double header sweep to run their record to 3-0. It is the first time Talldeaga has swept its opening week since 2018.
Talladega got a pair of long balls in the first game of the twin bill for an 8-2 win, then tallied the winning run, 7-6, in the last at-bat of the afternoon, as it handed Thomas University (Ga.) its fifth and sixth losses of the young season.. The victories marked the first time in series history that the Tornadoes have swept a set from the Nighthawks.
Thomas struck first in game one, but in the bottom of the third inning, Talladega’s Miguel Oropeza got the Tornadoes on the board. Oropeza blasted the first Talladega homer of the season – a three-run shot that staked TC to an early 3-1 lead. Talladega added five more runs in the fifth on a sacrifice fly from Jose Santiago and a Rafael Diaz pinch-hit grand slam as the Tornadoes cruised to the 8-2 win.
Helson Fernandez (1-0) allowed one earned run in four innings of four-hit pitching to earn the win. Fernandez walked three and fanned four in the contest before giving way to Beau Neely who tossed the final three frames. Neely yielded an earned run on three hits, two walks, and four strikeouts. The loss went to Thomas’s Riley Fisher (0-2) who allowed six earned runs despite yielding only four Talladega hits in the contest.
Oropeza added a single and was 2-for-3 with two runs scored and three RBIs. Wander Arias scored twice, and Diaz had four RBIs.
In game two, Oropeza got the scoring started with a first inning sac fly, but Thomas knotted the score in the top of the second on a 1-out double from Brad Fleenor.
Diaz picked up his fifth RBI of the day in the third, and in the bottom of the fourth, Darlin Fernandez belted a 3-run round-tripper that seemingly broke the game open.
Thomas, though, did not go quietly. The Nighthawks tallied three runs in the fifth, and in the sixth, the tying run trotted home on a balk after an intentional walk had loaded the bases with two outs.
In the bottom of the inning, however, Talladega surged back on top. Nomar Garcia led off the inning with a single, and he moved up to second on a sacrifice bunt from Jessuette Dominguez. One out later, Joelvin Dilone delivered a go-ahead base knock and Garcia raced home with what proved to be the winning run, as the Tornadoes completed the sweep with a 7-6 win.
Ramses Ortega (1-0) earned the win coming out of the Tornadoes bullpen with two on in the sixth inning. He struck out four and walked two but did not allow a hit. While one run did push across in the sixth, charged to reliever Oliver Cruz, Ortega sat down the NightHawks in the seventh to secure the win, striking out the last two batters. Jacob Pino (0-1) gave up the winning run off two hits in one inning of relief to receive the loss.