The Andrew College baseball team made history last Thursday at the Hord Athletic Complex by knocking off regular season Georgia Collegiate Athletic Association (GCAA) champion and No. 1 seed Georgia Highlands 9-5, and in the process, established a new single-season record 35 wins. The team also brought home the first NJCAA Region 17 Championship in Andrew College baseball history.
After dropping the opening game of the day 10-5 to Georgia Highlands and facing a win-or-go-home game for the second time in a week and down three players—Jacob Pierce, Kaleb Podger and Griffin Long—a team that blasted 60 homers, 105 doubles and 20 triples on the season turned nine singles and one double into 9 runs for the victory. Jonah Stout tossed five innings while fanning two to pick up his eighth win and turned over a 7-5 lead in the 6th inning to Chandler Griggs, who allowed just three hits in four innings to earn his sixth save of the year.
Drew Wilkerson went 2-2 with a double, three runs scored and an RBI, Jonathan Manibusan went 2-6 with an RBI and a run scored, Peyton Adams was 2-5 with a pair of runs scored while Jake Edwards and Blake Falor each singled in a run as the Tigers took full advantage of nine Charger walks, four hit batters and three errors. They never trailed after the first inning.
With two on and two out in the bottom of the ninth inning, left fielder Manibusan reached over the wall and snatched back a 3-run homer and set off a wild celebration.
The win advanced the Tigers to the NJCAA Div. I Baseball—Appalachian District Championship where they faced the No. 2 ranked Walters State College out of Tennessee in a best two out of three series in Cuthbert, Ga. at the Hord Complex. The Senators appeared in the last two College World Series that have been played, finishing second one year and third in 2019. The Tigers ultimately lost 8-4 in Game 1 this past Tuesday and 10-1 on Wednesday.
The 35 wins broke the 2007 team’s previous high of 32, and the NJCAA Region 17 Championship was a program first.
Three Tigers were named to the GCAA 1st Team All-Region team, another program first, one was named to the GCAA 2nd Team All-Region team, four Tigers made the GCAA Gold Glove team, Podger was named the GCAA Player of the Year and Pierce was named GCAA Defensive Player of the Year.
Head coach Blake Williams picked up his 200th win during the regular season and said his team overcame adversity late in the season and stuck together to excel.
“It’s a surreal feeling and something we all take great pride in at Andrew College. This is a close-knit group of players who believed in each other every step of the way,” he said. “We dealt with some key injuries late in the season, but it was always the next guy stepping up for us in a big way. I’m so proud of every one of them, and these memories will last us a lifetime.”