The team has been hitting the ball well enough to place them in a tie for 14th in the NAIA for batting average out of 185 total baseball teams. It goes without saying they rank first in the Gulf Coast Atlantic Conference in the same category. The numbers the team put up Saturday likely will only improved such a mark.
“We’ve been hitting the ball well since day one,” head coach Will Ramos said. “The kids are doing very well. Nerio (Barreto)is doing excellent. They’re still hitting hard and very good and everybody is contributing to the offensive side. But we’ve got to cash the ball in. I think if we cash the ball in and the guys in the bullpen come out and get the job done, we’ll be a tough team to beat.”
The team cruised to an early 7-0 lead in the first inning. Kameron Mizzell’s three-run double was the highlight of the inning.
In the second inning, Maurice Leverett launched a two-run home run to increase TC’s lead to 9-0. Nick Foster hit a single near the foul line to bring in another run.
In the third inning, Dion Duncan hit a triple into the gap in right-center field to bring Chase Benfield around to score. Luis Benitez doubled to right field to bring Duncan around to score to increase the lead to 12-0.
In the fourth inning, Benfield reached first on an error by the left fielder and Foster came in to score. Duncan hit a grounder to shortstop for a force out at first base, but Austin Drummonds was able to score on the play to make it 14-0. Benitez capped things off with a two-run home run to right field.
For TC, Ryne Drummonds received the win for his four innings of work while allowing just two hits, no earned runs, and notching eight strikeouts. Diego Hernandez had a scoreless inning of relief work.
For Rust College, starting pitcher Qutavious Carter was charged with the loss.
“We had Ryne Drummonds throwing today and Jeff Pool,” Ramos said. “We played well today. We played them last year and we know that they’re program is a little bit down. Sometimes, it’s good to play a game like this. It can make you get back on track. We didn’t make too many errors. It’s a game to prepare us for this week because we’re going to have seven games.”
In the second game, Rust College actually got on the board first, but it was a short-lived lead. Carter reached on a grounder that made it past second base for an infield single. Jir’Mychael Thornton was able to follow it up with a bloop-hit single to shallow right field. Carter reached third base. With one out, Thornton was picked off in a rundown, but during the rundown Carter was able to come home to score to make it 1-0.
In the bottom half of the inning, TC was able to build a comfortable 7-1 lead. Brandon Roberts led off the inning with an inside-the-park home run, as the right fielder fell while misjudging Roberts’ hard-hit ball, which sailed over his head and traveled to the right field wall. Barreto hit a deep shot to left-center field to bring in another run. Mizzell’s grounder to second base reached center field to bring Barreto around for a run. Leverett doubled to left field to bring Mizzell around to score, giving TC a 4-1 lead. Joshua Thompson hit a single up the middle to bring Leverett in for a run. Kody Etheridge hit into a force out that brought Thompson in for another run. Foster’s frounder to shortstop took a bad hop, allowing Will Thompson to score for a 7-1 TC lead.
The team continued to pile on the runs in the second inning. Will Thompson hit a double to center field to bring in two runs. Foster hit a single to center field to bring in two more runs. Roberts was able to get a triple on a ball hit to right field, while scoring another run. Jesus Rosario hit a single to bring in a run and push TC’s lead to 13-1. Mizzell hit a double to center field to bring Rosario in for a run. Leverett hit a towering fly ball to center field for an out, but Barreto tagged up from third base to score. Joshua Thompson followed that up with a triple to left field to score Mizzell and give TC a 16-1 lead.
Etheridge hit a single straight past the reach of the second baseman to bring Thompson around to score. Before the inning was over, Foster reached base when the left field dropped a fly ball and Will Thompson came home to score and give TC a 18-1 lead.
They tacked on four more runs in the bottom of the fourth inning before closing the game out with three outs in succession.
Both games were called after five innings.
Jeff Pool continued the strong starting pitching with three innings while striking out five batters and allowing three hits and one earned run. Mykal Bailey pitched two scoreless innings in relief while striking out three batters.
For Rust College, starting pitcher Roosevelt Ford was charged with the loss.
TC committed a total of two errors throughout both games while turning three double plays. Rust College was charged with a total of eight errors.
“We got some days off, but actually we came yesterday and we worked very hard,” Ramos said. “We took extra ground balls, more than we take every practice and I think it’s helped. We talked about it yesterday. It’s about concentration and being responsible for your job. I think that’s where the errors came last week. Today, we concentrated a little bit more and worked on responsibilities and decisions and we did better.”
Ramos hopes the two wins will carry over into what figures to be a grueling week ahead, with seven games scheduled over the next seven days.
“It was tough to play today with the field,” Ramos said. “We had to work a lot to get it going. We tried to get two wins to set the tempo for the rest of the week and that’s what we did today. Hopefully, it will carry on for Tuesday and Thursday.”