ABILENE – The UT Tyler Patriots are back-to-back American Southwest Conference Champions for the second time in program history and for the fifth time overall after earning a 5-2 win over Hardin-Simmons on Saturday in the Gold Series final at Hunter Field.
The Patriots (30-17) have earned the ASC’s automatic bid to the NCAA Division III West Regional which will be played in Spokane, Washington and hosted by Whitworth at Avista Stadium. The historic stadium is the home of the Spokane Indians who are the Texas Rangers’ A short-season club. UT Tyler, which bounced back from an 8-2 loss in the first of two games on Saturday, has now won tournament titles in 2016, 2015, 2013, 2010 and 2009. UT Tyler’s five tournament championship are the most in ASC history, breaking a tie with McMurry which has four titles.
The NCAA is scheduled to announce the matchups for the regional tournament at 11 p.m. on Sunday via a press release.
For the second straight week, freshman pitcher Max Page led the Patriots to a win with the left-hander limiting the Cowboys to one run in seven innings of work. Page, who had only one start before earning the ASC Blue Bracket Championship win over Texas Dallas last Sunday, followed that stellar performance by striking out five on Saturday in the Gold Series title game. Page would exit with a 4-1 lead after UT Tyler scored two runs in the fifth and also had one run in the sixth, seventh and eighth innings.
UT Tyler opened scoring in the fifth with Braxton Hollenshead lacing an RBI triple into the left-center field gap to score Josh Burns who led the inning off with a double. Hollenshead would come in for the second run on a sacrifice fly by Graham Welch to give Page and the Patriots a 2-0 lead. The Patriots would add another run in the sixth with Sam Lane hitting a single to center field to score Alex Bishop who led the inning off with a walk. A sacrifice fly by Bishop in the seventh gave the Patriots a 4-1 lead and Daniel Williams blasted a solo home run in the eighth for the five runs.
Williams, who went 2-for-3 in the game and had five hits on the day, was named the ASC Gold Series MVP after having two home runs. UT Tyler had nine hits in the title game with Welch, Williams and Hollenshead each having two hits. Page earned his third win of the season, while Reese Read secured his fourth save after striking out two and limiting HSU to one run in the ninth before a dogpile ensued for the Patriots.
The Cowboys forced the if-necessary game by taking the 8-2 win in the opener that was started four hours after originally schedule to unplayable conditions due to rain overnight in Abilene. HSU would pound out 15 hits and survived 11 UT Tyler hits in the game that set up the decisive title game. Williams led the Patriots in the loss with a 3-for-5 game at the plate with one RBI and one run scored, while Wilson and Bishop had two hits each. Bishop had an RBI double which makes him the single-season program leader in doubles while Williams hit his second homer of the season – both of which have come in the conference tournament. A left-handed designated hitter, Williams also hit a home run last weekend in Austin against Texas Dallas.
Michael Blevins (3-4) took the loss after allowing six runs through 6 1/3 innings of work. Blevins did have six strikeouts in the game, while Chris Stodolka, Blake Brunneman and Collin Belcher finishing off the game in relief.
Daniel Williams, UT Tyler (MVP)
Trenton Buchhorn, UT Tyler
Sam Lane, UT Tyler
Max Page, UT Tyler
Cason Adams, UT Tyler
Colton Parker, Hardin-Simmons
Colton Peacock, Hardin-Simmons
Colton Spears, Hardin-Simmons
Taylor Gooding, Hardin-Simmons