“It’s a very good win, a very big win,” TC head coach Will Ramos said. “That’s our first conference game against a good team from Florida. I’m very excited, excited to know that the kids never give up. They keep coming back and coming back. We scored first, they came out tied the game, then we scored again and then they came out and tied it again with a hit. We made some mistakes, but we came up with the win. I’m very excited and very happy.”
Nerio Barreto, the NAIA player of the week, stepped into the batter’s box in the bottom of the ninth inning with one out and the tying run at third base and the winning run at first base. Barreto launched a pitch into deep center field. At first, it looked as though it would be a sacrifice fly, but the center fielder was unable to make the catch, bringing Austin Drummonds home from third and Dion Duncan came around from first base to score the winning run.
“All of them are doing a great job,” Ramos said of his team’s batters. “Even when they don’t hit the ball, they’re keeping with the game plan. Chase (Benfield) takes a lot of pitches in the leadoff, in the two-hole with (Dion)Duncan bunting and stuff like that. We’ve got to mention Nerio. He was actually the National Player of the Week and today you see we finished the game with him. He got three hits today. What else can you ask of the guy? The guy is almost hitting .600, so we’re very happy to have him and very excited about this win today.”
The game was scoreless until TC struck first in the bottom of the third inning. Barreto hit a ground-rule double and former B.B. Comer standout Kameron Mizzell knocked a single to center field to bring Barreto around to score, giving TC a 1-0 lead.
TC’s starting pitcher, Ryne Drummonds, cruised through the first four innings. In the fifth inning, he walked Reynaldo Otero. Carlos Betancourt sent a fly ball to center field, but Duncan lost it in the sun, leaving runners at second and third base with one out. Jose Visaez made a sacrifice bunt to first baseman Maurice Leverett, who relayed home to Mizzell but the runner beat the tag to tie the game 1-1.
TC (13-8,1-0) came back to regain the lead in the bottom half of the inning. Chase Benfield led off with a walk. Duncan laid down a perfect bunt to advance Benfield to second base. Barreto knocked a hard grounder to first base, but the first baseman charged too hard to make a clean play. Mizzell hit a single into left field to score Benfield and give TC a 2-1 lead.
In the top of the seventh, Edward Waters rallied again. Clint Horvath led off with a home run to center field to tie the game at 2-2. With one out, Reynaldo Otero drew a walk. With two outs, Jose Visaez singled to center field, which scored Otero to give Edward Waters a 3-2 lead.
TC turned to Diego Hernandez later in the inning and made it out of the inning with no further damage. Hernandez finished the game, earning the win for pitching 2 1/3 innings in relief. Starting pitcher Ryne Drummonds received a no decision for his 6 2/3 innings of work, allowing three runs, two of them earned, while striking out six batters.
“We always know we’re going to get a good pitching performance with Drummonds on the mound,” Ramos said. “For us, he’s a horse. Sometimes it’s frustrating when not too many people notice, but this is a guy that can pitch at the next level. All the time he gets on the mound, he gives us a chance to win. That’s what he did today: he kept us close to them and we came out with the win.”
A.J. Crosby pitched eight innings for Edward Waters before the team turned to Tyler Holbeck to close out the game in the ninth inning, but TC’s hitters had other plans. Crosby received a no decision, while Holbeck was charged with the loss.
Barreto finished the game three for four with one run scored and two RBIs. Mizzell was a perfect four for four at the plate with two RBIs.
“It feels great to be Talladega today,” Ramos said. “I just want to give a shout-out to the fans. Thank you for the support. It was another nice crowd today. We play tomorrow; I hope everybody is back tomorrow at 12 p.m.”