The No. 3 seed Centenary baseball team defeated No. 1 seed Trinity by a score of 10-5 to win the 2022 Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference Championship on Sunday evening at The Depot at Cleburne Station.
The Diamond Gents (27-16) won their second SCAC Championship and clinched an automatic berth into the upcoming NCAA Division III Championship. Centenary won the SCAC title for the first time since 2017 after finishing as runner-up in 2013, 2015, and 2018. The Tigers fell to 32-10 with the loss.
The selection show is set for Monday, May 16 at 11 a.m. central as Centenary will find out its opponents and destination. The format for the NCAA Division III Tournament is 16 regionals with 60 total teams. There are 14 four-team regionals, two two-team best of five sites playing a double-elimination format from May 19-22.
Centenary fell 6-4 in 10 innings earlier in the day to force a deciding “winner take all” game for the conference title. The Diamond Gents beat the Tigers 12-8 on Saturday to win two of three against them during the weekend and finished 3-3 versus Trinity for the season.
Trinity jumped ahead 2-0 after the top of the first inning but the Diamond Gents responded with four in the bottom half to take a 4-2 lead. The Tigers, though, scored three times in the top of the third to regain the lead at 5-4 but they would not score again as four Centenary pitchers held them scoreless over the final six innings.
Senior 3B Brady Robinson (Jacksonville, Texas) finished 3-6 with an RBI, senior RF John Beaudion (Houston, Texas) was 2-3 with a single-game career high four RBI, and sophomore LF Austyn Benoit (Welsh, La.) was 1-4 with three RBI and a run to lead the offensive attack for Centenary.
Senior 1B Preston Ludwick (Pflugerville, Texas) went 2-3 with an RBI and two walks and senior CF Gary Hewitt (Cedar Park, Texas), junior SS Noah Koehmstedt (San Diego, Calif.), senior C Ben Bridges (Beckville, Texas), and senior 2B Tyler Erickson (Houston, Texas) combined to for four hits, seven runs scored, three walks, an RBI, a double, and two stolen bases.
Centenary finished with 12 hits as they recorded 10+ hits in a game for the 28th time this season and scored 10 or more runs for the 18th time. Trinity finished with just six hits, committed three errors, and left seven on base. The Diamond Gents committed just one error, only struck out twice, and drew seven walks.
Senior Tyler Welch (Pineville, La.) started for the Diamond Gents and went 2.1 innings allowing five runs, all earned, and four hits with a walk and a strikeout. He faced 12 batters and threw 45 pitches, 28 for strikes. Sophomore RHP Zack Clark (Shelbyville, Texas) came in for Welch and was impressive as he allowed just two hits with to walks and one strikeout to pick up his first-career victory in his longest career outing. Clark faced 16 batters and threw 55 pitches, 30 strikes. Sophomore LHP Jacob Colby (Kingwood, Texas) faced one batter and hit him and was removed for junior RHP Hank Bennett (Richmond, Texas) who pitched the longest outing of his career (3.0 IP) and held the Tigers scoreless. Bennett walked three and did not allow a hit, throwing 34 pitches (19 strikes) and facing 10 batters.
Garrett Aylor started for Trinity and lasted just 2/3 of an inning, allowing three earned runs and a hit with two walks. Jonathan Newman (0-2) was the third of six Trinity pitchers and he suffered the loss as he was tagged for seven hits and two runs, both earned in 3.1 innings of work. He struck out two, did not walk a batter, and threw 60 pitches (39 strikes). Trinity hit six Centenary batters.
DH Cristian Holloway doubled in a pair in the top of the first to give the Tigers a 2-0 lead but was thrown out trying to stretch it at third and Welch got LF Brian Schaub to ground out to end the inning. The versatile Welch led off the bottom half of the first for Centenary and drew a walk. He went to second on a balk and advanced to third on a groundout by Robinson. Ludwick grounded out to SS to score Welch and make it 2-1 with two outs. Bridges then walked and Erickson doubled to put runners at second and third.
Corey Cater came in to replace Aylor and hit Hewitt with a pitch to load the bases. Koehmstedt walked to force in a run and tie the game as Cater’s struggles continued. Beaudion, down 0-2, then ripped a clutch two-RBI single to right-center field to score Hewitt and Erickson for a 4-2 lead. Trinity scored three in the third on a solo home run, an error, and a double. After a scoreless fourth, Beaudion came through again with a two-RBI single to score Koehmstedt and Hewitt for a 6-5 Centenary lead.
The top of the sixth inning proved to be a key to Centenary’s win and a missed opportunity for the Tigers. Schaub was hit but a pitch with one out and RF Jack Vonderhaar doubled to put runners on second and third with only one out and the Diamond Gents clinging to their one-run lead. Clark then got C Tyler Pettit on a pop out for a big second out but SS Michael Montrezza walked to load the bases. 2B Colt Harris, who homered off Welch in the third, then flew out to right to end the threat and leave the bases loaded. Trinity also left two on in the seventh and had a runner thrown out at the plate as Centenary’s defense and clutch relief pitching continued to shine.
Benoit hit a sacrifice fly in the seventh to score Koehmstedt for a 7-5 lead. Centenary padded its lead with three two-out runs in the bottom of the eighth. Benoit delivered a two-run double and Robinson singled home Benoit to make it 10-5. Holloway led the way for the Tigers as he went 2-3 with a pair of doubles, three RBI and a walk.
Trinity, the regular season SCAC champion, will most likely receive an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament.
2022 SCAC CHAMPIONSHIP ALL-TOURNAMENT TEAM
- Catcher – Tyler Pettit, Trinity
- Catcher – Ben Bridges, Centenary
- Infielder – MJ Metz, Trinity
- Infielder – Noah Martinez, St. Thomas
- Infielder – Preston Ludwick, Centenary
- Infielder – Jack Wisniewski, Trinity
- Infielder – Brady Robinson, Centenary
- Outfielder – Tyler Welch, Centenary
- Outfielder – Gary Hewitt, Centenary
- Outfielder – Ezra Gore, Trinity
- Outfielder – Austin Benoit, Centenary
- Designated Hitter – Christian Holloway, Trinity
- Pitcher – Tyler Herrera, Centenary
- Pitcher – Jack Martinez, Trinity
- Pitcher – Chris Parsons, St. Thomas
For more information on the 2022 SCAC Baseball Tournament, click here for the official website.