CLINTON, Miss. – After a five hour rain delay, two games and a thrilling ninth inning comeback, The University of Texas at Tyler baseball team claimed the first American Southwest Conference Championship in program history just after midnight on Monday morning at Mississippi College’s Frierson Field in Clinton.
With a scheduled 1 p.m. start, game one of the ASC Title game was pushed back to 6 p.m. due to inclement weather in Clinton. Once the game finally began, the Patriots turned in a dominating 16-2 performance over Mississippi College to force a winner-takes-all game two.
In game two, the Patriots mounted a thrilling ninth inning rally to capture the ASC Championship with an 8-5 win.
In the first game the Choctaws had no answer for UT Tyler’s offense, as the Patriots outhit Mississippi sixteen to seven while blasting four homeruns.
The senior quartet of Chad Daleiden (Cave Creek, Ariz.), Jeremy Harding (Houston, Texas), Paige Hodges (Crowley, La.) and Jared Hood (Marshall, Texas) all went yard in the contest, driving in a combined eight runs.
In his first start of the season, senior Grant Campbell (Spring, Texas) went the full nine innings and allowed only two runs off of seven hits with four strikeouts.
With the win, the Patriots and Choctaws immediately returned to the field to play game two with the winner taking home the conference championship and an automatic berth to the NCAA tournament.
UT Tyler was first on the board in the top of the sixth inning, when senior Brock Lemire (Nederland, Texas) blasted a double into left field that scored Paige Hodges.
Heading into the bottom of the seventh and clinging to a one run lead, the Patriots gave up three hits and committed one error that led to four runs by the Choctaws.
In the top of the ninth, Mississippi retired the first two UT Tyler batters to put themselves one out away from the championship.
With their backs against the wall, the Patriots began the most improbable of comebacks with a double from junior Austin Newell (Kennedale, Texas).
Freshman Jake Ashley (Gilmer, Texas) joined Newell on base by hitting a single to the shortstop. Ashley ended the play on second base, while Newell scored thanks to an error by the Choctaws.
Senior Kendall Fox (Carrollton, Texas) brought the Patriots within a run during the next at bat by scoring Newell with a single.
Chad Daleiden was next up to bat and scored the game winning run with a homerun shot over the right field fence that scored Fox as well.
Jeremy Harding was next to score off of a wild pitch after reaching base via a walk.
The Patriots capped their scoring at eight with a single from Jared Hood that scored Lemire and Hodges.
In the bottom of the ninth, Mississippi was able to score one run but had no answer for senior Brett Holland (Lindale, Texas) who entered the game in the unfamiliar role of closer and retired the final three batters of the inning to end the game and give UT Tyler the title.
Holland earned the save while senior Beau Ziegler (N. Wales, Pa.) picked up the win. Ziegler went two innings and gave up three runs off of six hits with three strikeouts. Junior Matt Sparks (Owasso, Okla.) started the game for UT Tyler and allowed just two runs off of two hits with four strikeouts over six innings.
Following the game, Hood, Fox, Holland and Campbell were all named to the All-Tournament team, while Daleiden was named most valuable player.
UT Tyler will now advance to the 2009 NCAA Division III Baseball Championships on May 13-17. The Patriots will have to wait until next Monday to learn where they will play their regional and who will be their first opponent.
UT-TYLER (38-10) is the ASC champion and receives an earns Automatic Qualification into the NCAA Division III Baseball Championship
Chad Daleiden, UT-Tyler (Most Valuable Player)
C – Jacob Daniel,Mississippi College
1B – Andy Smith, Mississippi College
2B – Chris Bieguenet, Texas-Dallas
SS -Chad Daleiden,Texas-Tyler
3B – Cody Ross, Texas-Dallas
DH – Jared Hood, Texas-Tyler
OF – Kendall Fox, Texas-Tyler
OF – Bo Bell, Mississippi College
OF – Chase Herrin, Mississippi College
SP – Brett Hinson, Mississippi College
RP – Brett Holland, Texas-Tyler
EXP – Grant Campbell, Texas-Tyler