The season may have come to an end Tuesday night in Winter Haven, Florida, but the future couldn’t be brighter for the USCB baseball program.
After trailing by eight runs, Ted Falkner’s squad never stopped battling, cutting the deficit to just three before falling 11-6 to Bryan (Tenn.) to conclude its run in the NAIA National Championship Opening Round Lakeland Bracket.
The Lions quickly surged to a commanding 9-1 lead after two innings, with the lone Sand Shark tally in the first pair of frames coming on an Alexander Humphrey sacrifice fly. USCB never quit, scoring one in the third before adding three more in the fourth to cut the lead in half at 9-5. Nick Milhan drove in Kyran Russ to kickstart the comeback effort, and Tavaris Terrell, Marino Sorbara, and Leandy Castro all scored off a trio of Bryan errors to make it a four-run game.
The Sand Sharks got even closer in the sixth inning, as Clint Sellers poked an RBI single up the middle to get within three. But the Lions gave themselves some insurance in the top of the ninth, adding a pair of runs in the ninth on a Parker Cosby two-out single before closing it out in the bottom half.
Payton MacPherson was outstanding in relief for USCB, throwing 7 2-3 innings of stellar ball and scattering just five hits and two runs alongside five strikeouts to give his team a chance late. Castro finished off an incredible season with another strong performance, going 2-for-4 with two runs scored while Sellers went 2-for-3 and drove in a run.
USCB finishes the season with an impressive record of 32-23 in Falkner’s first season at the helm and returned to the national tournament for the first time since 2016.
By Wes Kerr