CUTHBERT, Ga — The Andrew College baseball team made history on Thursday night at the Hord Athletic Complex, knocking off regular season Georgia Collegiate Athletic Association (GCAA) champion and #1 seed Georgia Highlands 9-5, and in the process, established a new single season record for wins with 35, and brought home the first NJCAA Region 17 Championship in Andrew College baseball history. With 2 on and 2 out in the bottom of the 9th inning, and a dugout and crowd ready to erupt, left fielder Jonathan Manibusan reached over the wall and snatched back a 3-run homer, and set off a wild celebration of fans, players, coaches, parents, and even a dog or two all over the field. The win advances the Tigers to the NJCAA Div. I Baseball – Appalachian District Championship, where they will face the #2 ranked Walters State College (TN) in a best 2 out of 3 series in Cuthbert at the Hord Complex, with a single game played each day at 1:00 pm, beginning Tuesday, May 18. The winner of the Appalachian District receives a berth in the NJCAA College World Series in Grand Junction, CO, where ten of the best juco baseball teams in the nation, will battle to be crowned National Champion.
Facing a win or go home game for the second time in a week after dropping the opening game of the day 10-5 to Georgia Highlands, and with the added loss of centerfielder Jacob Pierce to the already missing Kaleb Podger and Griffin Long, a team that blasted 60 homers, 105 doubles, and 20 triples on the season, turned 9 singles and 1 double into 9 runs, and Jonah Stout, tossed 5 innings while fanning 2 to pick up his 8th win and turned over a 7-5 lead in the 6th inning to Chandler Griggs, who allowed just 3 hits in 4 innings to earn his 6th save of the year. Drew Wilkerson went 2 for 2 with a double, 3 runs scored and an RBI, Manibusan went 2 for 6 with an RBI and a run scored, Peyton Adams was 2 for 5 with a pair of runs scored, while Jake Edwards and Blake Falor each singled in a run, as the Tigers took full advantage of 9 Charger walks, 4 hit batsman, and 3 errors, and never trailed after the 1st inning.
The 2021 version of Andrew Baseball has established itself as the best Tiger team in the 37-year history of the program, which was started in 1984 by longtime Andrew College legend, Jimmy Gilbert. The 35 wins broke the 2007 team’s previous high of 32,and the NJCAA Region 17 Championship is a program first. Three Tigers were named to the GCAA 1st Team All-Region team, another program first, one was named to the GCAA 2nd Team All-Region team, four Tigers made the GCAA Gold Glove team, Podger was named the GCAA Player of the Year, and Pierce was named GCAA Defensive Player of the Year. Head Coach Blake Williams picked up his 200th win during the regular season, and had this to say about this team, “It’s a surreal feeling and something we all take great pride in at Andrew College. This is a close knit group of players, who believed in each other every step of the way. We dealt with some key injuries late in the season, but it was always the next guy stepping up for us in a big way. I’m so proud of every one of them and these memories will last us a lifetime.”
The Tigers face a stern test against the perennially powerful Senators, who have been to the last two College World Series that have been played, finishing 2nd one year, and 3rd in 2019.