GRAND PRAIRIE, Texas – It was not exactly a work of art when the Gents lost game one in heartbreaking fashion to play the if necessary game, but the Maroon and White jumped on the Tigers from the first pitch in the decider.
The first three Gents in game two loaded the bases, and sophomore Chris Zapata blasted the first pitch he saw into the batter's eye in centerfield to break the career record for RBI's as Centenary (34-8) run-ruled Trinity (28-16) 13-3 to win the 2017 Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference Baseball Championship Sunday afternoon, April 30 at AirHogs Stadium in Grand Prairie, Texas.
Sophomore Andrew Russell doubled on the first pitch he saw in game two, followed by a hit by pitch and an infield single by senior Michael Schimpf to load the bases. Zapata jumped all over the first pitch for the second Gents grand slam of the season to break the record.
Zapata also broke the single-season RBI record in game one with a two-run shot to left field. He now has 12 home runs on the year to easily lead the SCAC.
Meanwhile, junior Kaleb Kirk (10-3) took the ball on one day's rest from the win in the first round. He threw 5.2 innings and allowed just six hits and two runs with four strikeouts. He tied both Holden Novak (2013-16) and Ken Marks (1979-82) for the most career victories in school history (22).
Sophomore Matthew Devillier recorded the final four outs, allowing three hits and one run.
Every Gent either had a hit or scored a run in the title win, led by three hits by Zapata, Lavergne, and Guin. Zapata had five RBI's and scored a pair of runs and was a triple short of the cycle, while Lavergne drove in a pair.
The Gents kept the momentum going with three runs in the second, four in the fourth, and single tallies in both the sixth and seventh. In the second, sophomore Cameron Guin tripled to right field and scored on junior Cole Lavergne's single up the middle. Senior Aaron Quintanilla followed with an RBI double, and Schimpf grounded out on a hit-and-run. However, Quintanilla motored home and beat the throw to put the Gents up 7-0.
In the fourth with one out, Schimpf was beaned for the school-record 52nd time in his career and scored on Zapata's double. Freshman Cody Crowder's single put runners on the corners, and an error on a sacrifice bunt scored Zapata. Trinity then threw an error trying to turn a double play to allow another runner to score, and Guin's two-out single put 11-0.
Around single tallies for Trinity in the fifth, sixth, and seventh, a wild pitch with a runner on third in the fifth and an RBI single by Lavergne in the sixth lifted Centenary to the run-rule win and the championship.
In a heartbreaking loss in game one, Centenary rallied from an 8-2 deficit to take a 9-8 lead in the bottom of the eighth. However, Trinity scored two in the ninth for the thrilling 10-9 win. With Centenary down six in the fifth, the Maroon and White erupted for five runs to cut the deficit to one. Quintanilla walked and Schimpf singled to put runners on the corners. With one out, Crowder singled up the middle for an RBI. Russell singled to load the bases, and a bases-loaded walk with two outs plated the second run. Junior Ian Graham delivered the big blow, doubling down the leftfield line to clear the bases. However, he was thrown out trying to take third base.
In the eighth with two on and two outs, Graham singled to tie the game. However, the rightfielder threw the ball away to allow the go-ahead run to score for Centenary. The Tigers responded with two in the ninth for the one-run win to force a winner-take-all final game.
It is the first NCAA team bid for Centenary since the softball team won the Mid-Continent (now Summit League) Softball title in both 2004 and 2005.
Centenary returns to action on May 18 in the first round of the NCAA Tournament in Tyler, Texas.