Weekend Series Saw Rival HBCU Baseball Coaches Meet for First Time Since 2022 Black College World Series Finale

Kentucky State Head Coach Rob Henry, Black College World Series Executive Director Michael Coker, and Edward Waters Head Coach Reginald Johnson.

The teams of Edward Waters University’s head coach Reginald Johnson and Kentucky State University’s head coach Rob Henry met in a regular season matchup after both coached their baseball programs in last season’s Black College World Series Championship game in Montgomery, Alabama.

Last May, Edward Waters University capped its trip to Montgomery with an 3-2 victory over Kentucky State to claim a second national title. With EWU’s move from the NAIA to the NCAA Division II and becoming a member of the SIAC where Kentucky State is an existing member, a rematch was inevitable.

This weekend was the first time the coaches met since the Black College World Series finale and both teams came into the series ranked in the Black College Nines Top 10.

With the three-game series, Kentucky State resets its national title hopes.

This was a very important SIAC series for Edward Waters against Kentucky State. Both teams are geared to compete for the top spot in the conference and though EWU is the new kid on the block in the SIAC, the Tigers have a target on their backs as the defending black college national small school champion.

The scheduled three-game series was played at JP Small Park now known as the Henry L. Aaron Field at J.P Small Memorial Stadium in Jacksonville Florida. Edward Waters owns the distinction of being the only HBCU baseball program to continue playing home games in the park that housed Negro Leagues games and the great Hall of Fame players from that important historical era.

Before the start of the game, both coaches and I, the founder of the Black College World Series met on the field in honor of this historic first meeting.

I took the five hour drive from Pompano Beach Florida to Jacksonville to witness this historic event. I pulled over into a Waffle House to get some cheese grits before heading to the ballpark. I noticed a green and yellow bus parked at a hotel behind the Waffle House that had Kentucky State Thorobreds were lodging in. I also notice head coach Robert Henry and the players loading up to make their bus trip to their scheduled doubleheader against Edward Waters.

As I walked up to Coach Henry he was shocked to see me and we both hugged each other and had a great 15 minute conversation before we headed over to the ballpark.

Both teams completed their warmups and the field was prepared for the game. The coaches and I had a brief photo session to commemorate the Black College World Series. Then both coaches had the umpire’s meeting, the introduction of the players, the singing of the national anthem and finally it was game time.

The game lived up to the billing of national championship setting and was very competitive from start to finish in game one. Both teams split a doubleheader in games one and two. The Tigers took game one in walk off fashion, 7-6 to draw first blood in the series.


Edward Waters scored the game’s first run in the bottom of the first inning when Chase Morris scored on a throwing error to take a 1-0 lead.

After the first inning, EWU starter Alexander Davila and KSU starter Eric Turner kept hitters off-balance until the top of the fifth inning when the Thorobreds Joseph Esparza smashed a three-run homerun giving Kentucky State a 3-1 lead.

The Tigers were able to retake the lead in the bottom of the seventh inning. Four straight singles gave the Tigers a 4-3 lead.

Kentucky State tied the contest in the top of the eighth, then took the lead with two runs in the top of the ninth up 6-4.

EWU walked it off in the bottom of the ninth-inning after getting two men on base, Anthony Roman was credited with three runs batted in on a fielder’s choice three fielding errors that brought home three Tigers for the 7-6 win.

Chase Morris led the Tigers at the plate, going 2-for-3 with an RBI, two stolen bases, and three runs scored. The Thorobreds’ Esparza went 2-for-5 with a three-run home run driving home his 23rd run batted in for the season.

Edward Waters Darius Blasingane was credited with the victory for the Tigers in relief. Starter Davila recorded 6.1 innings of work, allowed four runs, four hits, while striking out 10 batters. The game marked the third time in his three starts striking out 10 batters he’s face this early into the 2023 season. Kentucky State starter Eric Turner, in 6.2 innings on the hill struck out 7 batters. Both starters received no decisions.

In game two, Kentucky State split the doubleheader.


The Thorobreds got on the scoreboard first in the top half of the second inning to take an early 1-0 lead. Edward Waters responded with a Jacob Rowe sacrifice fly in the bottom of the second to tie the contest, then in the bottom of the third, Sebastian Velez hit an RBI triple and later scored on a passed ball to give the Tigers a 3-1 lead.

Kentucky State cut into the lead in the top of the sixth with a run on an EWU error, then with two men out, the Thorobreds scored four runs, three of which came on a homerun by Daniel Moore for the 6-3 win. Moore was 3-for-3 with the three-run home run.


Kentucky State took an early 3-0 lead thanks to Joseph Esparza three-run homerun in the first inning. They would plate two additional runs in the top of the fourth inning for a 5-1 lead.

Edward Waters would jump on Kentucky State starter Dylan Compton scoring six runs in the fifth and six innings for a 8-5 advantage after six.

The Thorobreds’ Antonio Chambers hit a homerun with two runners on base to tie the game at 8-8 in the top of the ninth. Esparza’s sacrifice fly to center secured the 9-8 Kentucky State victory.

Edward Waters had a chance to put the game away when they loaded the bases three times during the game and came away with no runs.

The Thorobreds get some revenge against the 2022 HBCU National Champion Edward Waters ballclub winning two of its three game series.

Both teams really competed at a national caliber level. Both head coaches are now tied 2-2 in head-to-head competition.

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