The baseball team at Toccoa Falls traveled to Southern Wesleyan University on February 7-8 for a three game series. Last weekend at Bryan College, the Eagles lost Friday’s matchup, but rebounded to sweep Saturday’s doubleheader in its only series of the short season. SWU also entered into the weekend with a 2-1 record, having taken two of three against Bluefield College. In the weekend series between the south region opponents, TFC dropped Friday’s game 10-0, but swept Saturday’s doubleheader 5-3 and 7-5, just as the Eagles had done against Bryan.
Dylan Charles took the ball for the Eagles in Friday’s contest. Last weekend at Bryan, Charles pitched well, but was given the loss despite not allowing an earned run. SWU took the lead off Charles in the bottom of the first, and added three runs in the fourth to jump to a 4-0 lead. The Eagles struggled against SWU starting pitcher Matt Craig. Of Craig, Coach Justin Pollock said, “He [Craig] is one of the better guys we’ll face this season. He kept us off balanced, and we failed to make any adjustments at the plate.” Craig scattered four hits in 7 shutout innings. For TFC, freshman Clay Ogle replaced Charles in the bottom of the 6th inning, and struggled to get the Eagles out of a tight spot. The Warriors plated four runs in the inning, and blew the game open for a 10-0 advantage. Against the Warriors, Charles took the loss for the Eagles, but pitched better than his final stat line reflected. “Charles pitched well on Friday, but gave up a lot of soft hits. And the offense certainly did not help him out at all,” said Coach Pollock.
Shortstop Jordan Couillard led off the second inning of Saturday’s first game with a double to left-center field. After Zack Warner (pictured above) moved Couillard to third base with a single, Josh Hill’s sacrifice fly to right-center field gave the Eagles an early 1-0 lead; its first lead of the series.
TFC would double its lead in the third inning when Ronnie Stewart walked and scored after a Josh Ward single and a wild pitch.
The Warriors would tie the game at 2-2 in the bottom of the third off starting pitcher Zach Breeden. In the inning, SWU scored two runs, off three hits, and stranded two runners on base.
In the 6th inning, Warner walked and Josh Hill doubled for runners in scoring position and no outs. Jimmy Walker’s sacrifice fly scored Warner to give the Eagles a 3-2 lead. Hill was stranded in scoring position, but represented an important insurance run the Eagles would have had liked to have scored.
Leading 3-2 in last and final inning, Colton Roberts came to the mound in hopes of earning the save. Roberts walked the leadoff hitter, who would later score the tying run off a SWU double. With the game tied at 3-3, Roberts buckled down, and stranded the game-winning run on third base.
After a scoreless 8th and 9th innings, the Eagles scored two runs in the 10th despite opening the inning with back to back strike outs. Josh Hill walked and Jimmy Walker singled and Hill later scored on the wild pitch during Justin Key’s at bat. On the wild pitched, Walker moved up to second base, and would score on Key’s single to right. The Eagles’ two out rally put TFC in front 5-3.
Zach Murdock came on for TFC in the bottom half of the 10th and retired SWU 1-2-3 for his first save of the season.
In the win, Justin Key was the lone Eagle with a multi-hit game. Key finished 2-5 with a RBI. Jimmy Walker was 1-3 with a run scored and a run batted in. Ronnie Stewart, Zack Warner, and Josh Hill also scored for TFC. Josh Ward added a hit and two stolen bases.
The bullpen allowed a lone run in 5 innings of work. Brady McMichael pitched two scoreless innings, and Colton Roberts bounced back to earn the win. Coach Pollock said of starting pitcher Zach Breeden and the team, “I was very proud of the team for not quitting and battling through some adversity. It was great to see Breeden pitch well after struggling at Bryan. It was a good team win. Not one guy really stood out; we just found a way to win in the 10th. That’s a great way to win games.”
Justin Key took the mound in game two of Saturday’s doubleheader, and allowed two first inning runs to SWU. TFC would answer with a run in the second and three in the third inning to take a 4-2 lead. The Eagles would also score a run in the fourth and two more in the fifth to hold a 7-2 advantage. The Warriors would chase Key from the game and plate three runs in the 5th inning to bring TFC’s lead to 7-5.
Josh Hill entered the game in the 5th with bases loaded and two outs. Hill ended the Warriors’ threat with a strike out and pitched a scoreless 6th and 7th innings for his first save of the season and preserved the win for starting pitcher Justin Key. “Key pitched well enough to win, but he didn’t have his best stuff. Hill gave great effort and shut them down for the last two innings,” said Coach Pollock.
Josh Ward and Jordan Couillard each recorded two hits, a run batted in, and a run scored in the game three win. Ward stole two more bases in game three, his third and fourth stolen bases on the day. Ronnie Stewart, Will Patrick, Tray Hill, Josh Hill and Erick Lusk also scored for the Eagles. Stewart, Patrick, Walker, and Michael Sneed recorded RBI’s.
The Eagles improve to 4-2 with two series wins on the young season. TFC will travel to Reinhardt College on Wednesday for a doubleheader starting at 2:00 and 4:00 PM. The Eagles will also travel to Truett-McConnell College on Friday. The Bears and Eagles will wrap up the weekend series on Saturday in a doubleheader hosted by TFC. Saturday’s games will be the home opening games for the Eagles. Friday’s game at Truett will begin at 3:00, and Saturday’s double dip in Toccoa will start at 12:00 and 2:00 PM.