Although they did not win it all, the Trinity Baptist College Eagles had some terrific moments in the 2018 NCCAA South Region Tournament. The biggest moment in the three games the Eagles played occurred in the top of the ninth versus Trinity’s biggest baseball rival, the Screaming Eagles of Toccoa Falls College in an elimination game on Wednesday afternoon.
With two outs and the score tied at 4-4, Trinity’s David Hall laced a 1-0 fastball into center field to drive in fellow senior A.J. Alexio with the eventual game-winning run. Alexio smacked the first pitch down the line and hustled a one-out double two batters earlier. He then used his speed to score on Hall’s base hit without a throw.
Hall had three hits in the contest, including the game winner in the ninth. He also singled in the first and seventh, and each hit brought Aleixo in to score and earned Hall the Player of the Game honors.
Alexio reached base four times on two hits, including that double, a fielder’s choice, and a hit batsman.
The Eagles rallied in the top of the seventh to turn a 3-1 deficit into a 4-3 lead. Seniors Michael Cohick singled and Jon Shiver walked to open the inning. With runners at the corners, Shiver stole second base, and both runners scored on an error when Jordan Keys’s RBI ground ball to short went astray on the throw, and the game was tied at 3-3. Hall followed with a go-ahead RBI single to bring in Alexio, who benefited from the error and advanced first to third on that same play.
Trinity took a 1-0 lead in the first on Hall’s base hit to score Alexio, but Toccoa came back with a three-run bottom of the fourth. Former TBC Eagle T.J. Lanning doubled in a run to tie the game, and Jesse Thomas and Austin Davies followed with run-scoring singles to give Toccoa a 3-1 lead. Toccoa later came back a second time with an unearned game-tying run in the bottom of the seventh on a Trinity miscue.
Senior Dan Richard worked the final two innings in relief to earn the win. Richard allowed only one hit and struck out one, keeping the score tied after eight and then shutting the door in the ninth. However, Toccoa’s Josh Slate tripled to left-center with two outs in the ninth to put the potential tying run at third base. First baseman Matt Carter then caught the final out by shifting one step to his left to snag the line drive off the bat of Landon McClane, and the Eagles advanced to play Emmanuel College later that night.
Shiver pitched five innings as the Eagles’ starter, allowing three runs on five hits. He walked two and struck out five. Austin Hiller pitched two innings in between Shiver and Richard, allowing one unearned run on one hit and a walk while fanning three.
Trinity fell to Brewton-Parker College 9-3 in the opening game on Tuesday and Emmanuel 10-0 on Wednesday evening. Eagle batters hit the ball very hard and made consistent contact throughout each game, but the opposing defenders made play after play, some of them of highlight-reel caliber, and many of Trinity’s hard drives went right to the defenders for outs.
Even with the losses, a number of Trinity players finished the tournament with impressive totals:
— Jon Shiver: 4 for 9, R, SB: 5 IP, 3 ER, 5 H, 5K, 2 BB
— David Hall: 4 for 12, 3 RBI
— A.J. Alexio: 6 for 15, 3 R
— Kelvin George: 3 for 7, diving catch, several running catches in right
— Jordan Keys: 5 for 13
— Michael Cohick: 1 for 3, R vs. Toccoa
— Matt Carter: 3 for 12, R, 0 K, solid contact throughout tournament
— Nick Mackedon: 2 H, R
— Austin Lane Frye: 3 IP, 1 ER, 2 H, K
The Eagles’ season has ended, and although they did not win the tournament, they picked up a hard-fought win against their biggest baseball rival and closed out a successful season with a young and talented roster. With most of the players returning next season, Coach Jon Copeland looks for even more success in 2019.
NOTE: Warner University won the tournament and will represent the South Region in the NCCAA World Series in Easly, South Carolina, from May 23-26.
–Raymond Bureau, TBC Eagles Athletics