BLUE MOUNTAIN – The “Eureka Moment” for Blue Mountain College baseball came late in last Saturday’s TranSouth Conference doubleheader.
The Toppers broke through in a tie game with three runs in the sixth inning and went on to defeat NAIA No. 1-ranked Cumberland 7-4.
“We rallied and scored three runs to finish them. That’s been the key moment in our season,” BMC coach Curt Fowler said.
In their first season of competition, the Toppers are 11-19 after losing both games in Friday’s doubleheader at Martin Methodist College.
Friday’s finals were 7-1 and 3-1, dropping the team to 2-10 in the TranSouth Conference.
Among the lessons Fowler has been eager for his team to learn is how to close games strong.
Prior to its upset win against Cumberland, the Toppers had lost seven in a row, five of those losses by one run.
That changed against Cumberland when Channing Walker and Corey Adams delivered RBI hits in the decisive sixth.
BMC has backed up the weekend success with two more wins, defeating Rust College twice, 15-3 and 13-7, on Tuesday.
“We had lost two conference games at Bethel on the same day on walk-off hits, and it was really disheartening to the kids,” Fowler said. “I felt like we were going to win, but we were going through those pains of learning to finish.”
In spite of the recent string of close losses, Fowler is pleased with the progress he’s seen and believes his team is ahead of where he thought it would be at this point.
“With the level of competition we’ve faced, I’m not content, not satisfied, but I am pleased,” he said.
One of the biggest adjustments has been getting his hitters ready to face the aces around the league. It’s not uncommon to see pitchers with low 90s velocity in TranSouth Conference play.
About halfway through the schedule, the Toppers are led offensively by Seth Kennedy, formerly of Tishomingo County High School and Northeast Community College. He’s hitting .367 with five doubles, a triple and two home runs.
Walker, who played at Tupelo High School and ICC, is second, hitting .323. Former Pontotoc and ICC standout Dustin Lunn has a team-leading 21 RBIs.
“We’re really blessed to be close by our junior colleges and to be able to recruit them,” Fowler said. “Those coaches have done a great job preparing these kids for their junior and senior seasons.”
The most challenging obstacle in the quest to compete early has been to build pitching depth, Fowler said, and that’s what he’s seeking most on recruiting visits.
“People have become more receptive. More people come up to you. They recognize your logo. I’m getting more phone calls and emails from local coaches,” Fowler said.
For now, Fowler tries to strike a balance between building for the future and getting the most he can from the present.
“At the beginning of the season we didn’t set a number of wins. Our goal was to get to the conference tournament,” Fowler said earlier this week. “You have to finish in the top six. Right now we’re tied for seventh, and we have a shot. It would be a great achievement for a first-year club.”
Contact Parrish Alford at 678-1600 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Parrish Alford/NEMS Daily Journal