Maryville College followed senior Sam Jokerst on Wednesday afternoon, as Maryville upset the USA South No. 4-seeded Huntingdon College Hawks, 5-3, in LaGrange, Ga.
Maryville – the No. 5 seed – advanced through the first round of play in the USA South tournament behind strong hitting from Jokerst and Patrick Messinger, as well as key performances on the mound by Evan Heffner and Joe Jones.
The Scots made history on Wednesday, as they won their 20th game of the season. With the victory, Head Coach Cody Church becomes the first-ever coach in Maryville College history to compile 20-win seasons through his first three years.
"Having another 20-win season is a big accomplishment for our team," Church said. "'This year's team has been through a ton of adversity, and I could not be more proud of what they have accomplished together. Winning games in this league is a battle each time out. We just try to go out and play good baseball each game and see where we are at the end."
Church also continues his record streak as the winningest MC head coach through a trio of seasons. The head coach won his 74th career game at the helm. He passed Daniel Washburn (2007-2011) who had 61 and Eric Etchison (1993-2006) who tallied 58 career wins.
After advancing behind the record win, the Scots look to take on Regular Season Champs LaGrange College – the No. 3 team in the country – tomorrow, Thursday, April 12. First pitch at Point University in West Point, Ga. Is set for 10 a.m.
"I'm really proud of the way our guys competed today," Church said. "Huntingdon is a scrappy team that always gives us fits. To be able to get past them in round one is a big deal for our team."
Jokerst led Maryville with a 2-for-3 afternoon, as the senior tallied two RBI and a run scored. For the center fielder, it was more than just advancing in the USA South Tournament.
"Being its my senior year, I'm just trying to come out here and have fun," Jokerst said. "We're trying to see if we can make this thing last for a long time. We're not ready for it to be done out here, so we're just having fun."
Messinger was hit-by-pitch to lead off the top of the third inning for the Scots, before he was sacrificed to second by Hayden Hollingsworth. Bryce Redaja laced an RBI double to right-center to score the speedy second baseman, as Maryville led 1-0 going to the fourth.
The Scots would use a two-out rally in the top of the fourth to tally a trio of runs. Drew Johnson led off the inning with a hit-by-pitch, before Jokerst earned his first RBI with a two-out double to left. Messinger would score Jokerst with an RBI single to left, before Hollingsworth would double done the left-field line to score Jokerst. Going to the bottom of the inning, Maryville held a 4-0 lead.
Huntingdon would fight back, however. Taylor Fought doubled to lead off the inning, before advancing to third on a wild pitch. Cody Shoemaker would use an RBI single to right to score Fought, cutting into MC's lead, 4-1.
A throwing error in the bottom of the seventh would cut Maryville's lead to just two, as Josh Hines scored on the play. Going to the eighth, the Hawks trailed, 4-2.
Joey Tomlinson doubled off the left field fence, narrowly missing a home run down the left field line. He was sacrificed to third, before Jokerst used an RBI double to left to score the first baseman. Going to the bottom of the inning, Maryville led 5-2.
Fought homered to left in the bottom of the inning, before Jones came into close the door for the Scots in the 5-3 win.
Maryville (20-18) saw Messinger finished with a 1-for-2 day to follow up Jokerst's performance. He had two runs scored with an RBI, as Andrew Henry went 3-for-4. Hollingsworth and Redaja each went 1-for-4 with an RBI, while Tomlinson went 1-for-4 with a run scored. Johnson scored a run for the Scots.
Heffner moved to 4-3 on the year, as he tossed 7.1 innings. He allowed just eight hits and two earned runs, while striking out four. Jones earned his seventh save of his senior season, going 1.2 innings. He gave up just one hit, while fanning a pair.
For Huntingdon (12-23), it was Fought who went 2-for-4 with an RBI and a pair of runs. Corey Lowe was 2-for-3, while Shoemaker was 2-for-4 with an RBI.