Lawrenceville, GA-Talladega College capped a successful weekend by earning its first Association of Independent Institutions Baseball Championship Monday afternoon at Georgia Gwinnett College's Grizzly Baseball Complex.
The Tornadoes (27-22), the tournament's No. 3-seeded team, defeated top-seeded Georgia Gwinnett 5-2 in the championship game – going a perfect 3-0 in the tournament and defeating the national No. 2-ranked Grizzlies on back-to-back days, after losing three times to the team during the regular season.
Talladega (27-22) and Georgia Gwinnett College (45-10) will now represent the A.I.I. in the NAIA Opening Round taking place May 14-17. The NAIA national office will release the national field Thursday, May 10. GGC will be hosting one of the nine Opening Round sites.
The Alabama team scored a run in the first inning and took a 3-0 lead in the third inning. An inside-the-park home run to center field by Julian Lopez gave the team a 5-1 lead in the fourth inning.
The tournament hosts left the bases loaded in the top of the eighth inning and brought the potential game-tying run to the plate in the ninth inning. Talladega starting pitcher Daniel Castillo scattered five hits over eight innings and got out of the first jam, after evading a bases-loaded situation for the Grizzlies in the first frame. Reliever Manuel Caballero got a fly out to seal the victory and title.
Castillo was named the tournament's Most Valuable Player. Gustavo Castellano, Ryan Ramirez and Lopez each collected two hits for the Tornadoes.
2018 A.I.I. Baseball Championships All-Tournament Team
Jose Jimenez, Fisher College
Chad Reusch, College of the Ozarks
Kelin Washington, Edward Waters College
Jordan Pontious, Edward Waters College
Canden Frankie, Edward Waters College
Hunter Dollander, Georgia Gwinnett College
Cord Johnson, Georgia Gwinnett College
Onassis Matos, Georgia Gwinnett College
Julian Fitts, Talladega College
Julian Lopez, Talladega College
Wilkin Louis, Talladega College
Manuel Caballero, Talladega College
Most Outstanding Player: Daniel Castillo, Talladega College
~ Georgia Gwinnett Sports Information