KINGSPORT, Tenn. - Timely hitting and quality pitching make the perfect formula to win a baseball game, and that is exactly what top-seeded Tennessee Wesleyan University put together on Sunday, winning the 2017 Appalachian Athletic Conference (AAC) Baseball Tournament with a 4-1 decision over sixth-seeded Truett McConnell University.
The AAC Tournament was held at Hunter Wright Stadium in Kingsport, Tenn.
This is the Bulldogs' third tournament crown in a row and 10th out of the last 11 years.
The pitching trio of Ty Fowler, Brantley Flanagan, and Chris Washington held Truett McConnell (31-26 overall) to one run on four hits. Flanagan tossed 3 2/3 innings in relief in collecting the win, while Washington struck out the side in the ninth to record the save.
After three scoreless innings, Tennessee Wesleyan (39-18 overall) broke the deadlock when Adrian Gonzalez and Grant Lang came through with back-to-back, two-out doubles to make it a 1-0 contest. Edwin Bonilla belted a solo home run in the top of the fifth to lift the Bulldogs to a 2-0 lead.
The Bears cut the deficit in half when Tate Gaines lined a single to down the left-field line to score Austin Bishop.
However, Malik Stephens gave Tennessee Wesleyan a pair of insurance runs with a RBI single in the sixth and a solo home run in the ninth to secure the 4-1 victory.
Stephens finished the game 2-for-4 with two RBIs.
Gonzalez, who went 2-for-3 with two doubles and two runs scored in the championship game, earned Tournament MVP honors. Joining him on the All-Tournament Team are: Bonilla, Washington, and Nehwon Norkeh of Tennessee Wesleyan; Chris Carden, Patrick Overstreet, and Gregory Elder of Truett McConnell; Fernando Garcia and Trevor Behrent of Bryan College; and Zane Britton and Francisco Ogando of Union College.
Both Truett McConnell and Tennessee Wesleyan earned automatic berths to the NAIA National Championship Opening Round, which begins on Monday, May 15. The full 45-team field and pairings will be announced on Thursday.
For more info on the tournament, visit the tournament page.
For complete tournament stats, click here.