by Jason Mehl, Director of TFC Sports Information
The Toccoa Falls College baseball lost two of three games at last week’s conference tournament in Florida and failed to win the conference championship but, on the strength of its regular season record and rankings, is still headed to next week’s NCCAA Div. II National Tournament in Cincinnati, Ohio as the #1 seed.
On April 28, TFC beat tournament hosts, Clearwater Christian College 3-1 with a pitching gem from Dylan Charles. All tournament games went seven innings and Charles recorded all but the final two outs of the first game, striking out seven and giving up only one run. Nate Bowen came on and gave up one hit, but struck out two batters to end the game and record the save. Head Coach Justin Pollock was pleased with the performance of his pitchers. “They made it easy for us. Dylan didn’t allow any hard contact and gave our guys the chance to make some easy plays.” Josh Ward went 2-4 with a double, and scored two of TFC’s three runs.
The next day TFC lost two disappointing games. The first was to Atlanta Christian College (12-5) and the second was to Clearwater (7-5). Andrew Thorne started the game with a nation-leading 1.31 ERA and, even though he’d given up six earned runs by the fifth inning, TFC was only down 6-5. But with one out in the fifth, Atlanta batters got three singles in a row and they blew the game wide open. Atlanta scored six runs in the bottom of the fifth. Pollock wasn’t happy with the runs allowed, but he was more disappointed that the Eagles left several runners on base in scoring position. Brett Denney was 2-3 with 2 RBI and Cam Fulcher was 2-4 with an RBI and a double.
Immediately after the tough loss to Atlanta, TFC had to regroup and play Clearwater to stay alive in the tournament. With the game tied 1-1 and one out in the 2nd inning, TFC pitcher Cam Fulcher walked two batters. He then settled down and got Clearwater to hit the ball at TFC fielders, but two fielding errors led two four un-earned runs and at the end of the 2nd inning TFC was down 7-1. Fulcher kept Clearwater off the board the rest of the way, and the Eagles were able to put of four more runs, all driven in by Chris Sheridan, but they couldn’t dig out from that 2nd inning hole.
Pollock says the two losses don’t change anything regarding the way his team is approaching the National Tournament. “We happened to play a bad day of baseball, but we’ve played lots of good days of baseball this season. Like always, win or lose, you have to learn from your mistakes.”
Three TFC players were named to the all-conference team: Fulcher, Thorne and Charles. Catcher Chris Jackson received all-conference honorable mention. Pollock was named Coach of the Year for the second time in six seasons.
The National Tournament begins on Wednesday, May 11.