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LAWRENCEVILLE – The Georgia Gwinnett College baseball team will play for the 2019 Association of Independent Institutions Tournament championship after picking up a pair of victories Sunday at the Grizzly Baseball Complex.

The Grizzlies (42-11) finished off defeating Edward Waters College (Fla.) 12-4 in a contest resumed with one out in the ninth inning. Then, the tournament’s top-seeded team earned a 9-1 victory against No. 2 seed and defending champion Talladega College (Ala.) to advance to the championship round and automatic qualification to the Opening Round of the NAIA tournament.

In the second game, GGC took a 3-1 lead in the seventh inning following a RBI double from sophomore Nick Barnes. He also had a run-scoring double to put the tournament hosts on the scoreboard in the first inning.

The team added three runs in the eighth inning and senior Brenton Burgess connected on a two-run home run in the top of the ninth inning.

Georgia Gwinnett College outhit Talladega by a 12-to-3 margin and had five players recording multiple-hit performances. Senior C.J. Ballard collected three hits and drove in three runs. Junior Gabe Austin and sophomore Cam Coursey joined Barnes and Burgess in adding two hits in the victory.

Junior Hunter Caudelle came on in relief to toss five scoreless innings to improve his mound record to 6-0 for the season.

The Grizzlies will face the winner of Monday’s 11 a.m. contest in the championship round. The first game is slated for 3 p.m. If GGC doesn’t win that game, a winner-takes-all championship game will be played Tuesday, May 7.

Coach’s Corner

“It feels great to play for a championship and also qualify for the national tournament. We played great defense and pitched very well. We have a great pitching staff and grinded out some at bats during the middle innings. Talladega is a great team and kept us off balance. Overall, I am just happy for the team, school and community that we’re playing for a championship,” said Head Coach Brad Stromdahl.

Turning Point

Sophomore Nick Barnes broke open a tight 2-1 game with a RBI double that helped Georgia Gwinnett College score two runs in the seventh inning for a 3-1 lead. The Grizzlies would add three runs in the eighth and two more runs in the ninth to take control of the game.

Key Plays

Top of First

Nick Barnes hit a RBI double to bring home C.J. Ballard to give the Grizzlies a 1-0 lead

Top of Second

C.J. Ballard drew a bases-loaded walk to extend the lead to 2-0

Top of Seventh

Nick Barnes connected on a run-scoring double to right field as the tournament hosts grabbed a 3-1 advantage

Top of Eighth

C.J. Ballard hit a RBI single to begin a three-run inning

Top of Ninth

Brenton Burgess connected on a two-run home run

Inside The Numbers

· The Grizzlies outhit the Tornadoes by a 12-to-3 margin

· Senior Brenton Burgess recorded seven assists from shortstop

· Junior Hunter Caudelle improved to 6-0 on the season; he didn’t allow a hit in five innings of scoreless relief pitching

· GGC hitters drew eight walks in the victory

News & Notes

· GGC improves to 42-11 on the season; Talladega falls to 24-21 in 2019

· Georgia Gwinnett College is the top seed in the A.I.I. double-elimination tournament; Talladega stood as the No. 2 seed

· The Grizzlies are ranked No. 4 in the final NAIA Top 25 poll of the regular season

· Georgia Gwinnett College has defeated Talladega three times at the Grizzly Baseball Complex this season, after losing to the Tornadoes in the championship round of the 2018 A.I.I. tournament

Georgia Gwinnett College advances to the championship round of the 2019 A.I.I. Baseball Championships, set for 3 p.m. on Monday, May 6. The Grizzlies will face the winner of Monday’s 11 a.m. contest.

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