PREVIEW: @UTTylerBaseball, ETBU set for Gold Bracket Championship
Graphic by: Jordan Kinney
Graphic by: Jordan Kinney
ETBU (30-14)
#3 UT Tyler (38-7)
5/12/2017 | Tyler, Tx | Attendance: 825
UT Tyler31003000100019141
Win: Cody Brown (9-2) 2.010002
Loss: Ashley Dukes (2-2) 1.221103
Mason Aldredge (ETBU) 633000
Zach Compton (ETBU) 513511
Graham Welch (UTTBB) 723000

Thursday, May 11, 2017
by Wes Bloomquist ||

TYLER – The No. 3-ranked UT Tyler Patriots and East Texas Baptist Tigers are set to play in the American Southwest Conference Baseball Gold Bracket Championship on Friday and Saturday at Irwin Field with the winner earning an automatic bid to next week’s NCAA Division III West Regional which will be hosted in Tyler.

The Patriots have won back-to-back ASC Championships and are looking for their sixth title in program history. The Tigers (30-13) have not won an ASC title in their program history and are also making their finals debut. UT Tyler won the regular-season series 2-1 over ETBU in Marshall and are currently 23-3 in games played on its home field this season. The series begins at 7 p.m. on Friday before a 2 p.m. game on Saturday. An if-necessary game would follow if the teams split the first two games.

Daniel Williams leads the nation coming into this weekend with 76 hits and is on a 16-game hitting streak. A left-handed hitter from Katy with a .418 batting average, Williams earned ASC first-team honors and has contributed eight home runs, 12 doubles and 51 RBI. He is three hits away from matching the single-season program record for hits which is owned by Clay Baker who had 79 hits in the 2008 season. Williams is in his second season with the Patriots after transferring in and is a .394 career hitter with 11 home runs and 70 RBI in 80 games. Williams had nine hits in the Blue Bracket tournament, including drilling a three-run home run against Concordia in the final.

Trenton Buchhorn enters the series with a .419 batting average that includes going 7-for-16 with six RBI last weekend in the five games it took to advance out of the Blue Bracket. A senior from Arlington, Buchhorn transferred to UT Tyler last year from TJC and has 10 homeruns and 94 RBI in an 83-game career in a Patriot uniform. He has 34 RBI this season and four home runs. Graham Welch was named the Blue Bracket MVP after having nine RBI that came on 12 hits, including two home runs. A sophomore from Plano, Welch is hitting .364 with four doubles, two triples and four home runs that have produced 23 RBI in only 24 games played. He is a .347 career hitter for the Patriots and has 107 career hits in only 75 games.

Kyle Broussard had an impressive Blue Bracket Championship by going 6-for-12 with four RBI. A senior catcher from Tatum, Broussard has started 22 games at catcher this season and is hitting .355 with two home runs and 16 RBI. Ben Romines is hitting .352 this season with 45 hits and 20 RBI, while Alex Bishop has come back from injury and is hitting .327 with five doubles, one triple, three home runs and 21 RBI. A junior from Canada, Bishop hit a two-run triple in the series finale at ETBU to give the Patriots a 7-5 extra inning win. He has 11 home runs and 86 RBI in his career.

Atop the lineup, leadoff hitter Tim Hunter and Gunnar Quick are always on base and producing for the Patriots. Hunter leads the nation with 59 walks and has a .456 on-base percentage. A senior from Austin, Hunter also leads the team with 15 stolen bases and has 42 runs scored. Quick is a senior from Lufkin who lead the team with 45 runs scored and has 50 total hits entering this weekend. Quick had eight hits last weekend in the Blue Bracket portion of the ASC tournament and has 11 doubles, a triple, three home runs and 26 RBI this season.

The UT Tyler pitching staff has been led all season by starters Cody Brown (8-2), Ryan Cheatham (9-0) and Cason Adams (8-0) along with Reese Read who has secured eight saves from the bullpen. Brown earned ASC first-team honors and leads the Patriots with 78 strikeouts and a 2.74 ERA in 72 1/3 innings of work. A senior from Fulshear, he also leads the Patriots with five complete games and two shutouts. Adams is a four-year pitcher for the Patriots and has a 24-9 career record. He enters this weekend with 64 strikeouts this season and 208 in his career and earned the first save of his career on Sunday by getting the final three outs against Concordia. Cheatham is in his first season with the Patriots and comes into this weekend with 49 strikeouts and a 2.82 ERA in 76 2/3 innings of work. Reed has made 21 appearances and has 24 strikeouts, while Hunter Palmer has made a team-leading 22 appearances and has 25 strikeouts.

Max Page made his fifth start of the season last Sunday for the Patriots and went 7 1/3 innings with six strikeouts. Page is a sophomore from Montgomery who has made 14 appearances and has 20 strikeouts. Miles Thomas has a 2.57 ERA with 20 strikeouts in 28 innings 20 appearances, while Evan Kissinger has a 1.80 ERA in 10 innings of work.

The Patriot pitching staff has recorded 317 strikeouts and has a 3.55 ERA in 377 2/3 innings this season.

ETBU advanced to the Gold Bracket finals after sweeping through the Red Bracket, including an 11-7 win over UT Dallas in the finals after getting a grand slam from Zach Compton. The Tigers were 18-6 in ASC play this season and are hitting .313 as a team and have a 5.35 pitching staff ERA. Conner Combs was named the ASC Player of the Year and leads the Tigers with a .413 batting average that includes 12 doubles, two triples, 10 home runs and has produced 45 RBI. Zach Gartner also has 10 home runs and leads the team with 48 RBI, while Compton has nine home runs and 43 RBI.