Boston, MA- For the 16th straight year the Falcons baseball team is headed to the post-season. This year's A.I.I. Conference Tournament is to be held at Georgia Gwinnett College in Lawrenceville, GA with the action starting Saturday, May 4th at the Grizzly Baseball Complex. The Falcons drew the #3 seed out of five teams that qualified after finishing the season 40-14 and will take on the #2 seed Talladega College (23-21) Saturday at 3pm. The two teams just finished a series this week with the Falcons taking two out of three, but the seedings had already been established so the Falcons will be the away team in the first round of the playoffs. After finishing the regular season with 40 wins, the most in Fisher history, the Falcons will look to earn a first-ever appearance to the NAIA Opening Round scheduled for May 13-16.
The Falcons have numerous offensive weapons in their lineup, as seven out of the nine regular starters are batting over .300, with the team batting .349 as a whole. Junior first baseman Mitchell Lundholm (Plymouth, MA) has had a tremendous season at the plate as he is closing in on a 100-hit season, and is in the top five in the NAIA in hits (96), hits per game (1.79), batting average (.459), RBI's (78) and RBI's per game (1.45). Lundholm also leads the Falcons in runs scored (63) and stolen bases (24). Just behind Lundholm on the stat sheet is freshman leadoff man Jorge Sanchez (Caguas, PR) who now has 72 hits, 60 runs and 22 stolen bases, all good enough for second on the squad. He has now reached base safely 24 times to lead off a game this season. Freshman John Batista (Lawrence, MA) has come on strong to end the season as he has gone 14 of his last 28 at bats (.500), tagging four doubles and collecting 11 RBI's over that stretch. He is currently third on the team in batting average (.392), and hits (62), second on the team in RBI's (46) and leads the team in doubles (20). Sophomore Jacob Deziel (Merrimac, MA) has also played well as of late, as he batted .500 in the series against Talladega while adding six runs, two RBI's and smacked a pair of home runs to help lead his team over the Tornadoes. Senior shortstop Ivan Rivera (Brooklyn, NY) just joined the 100-hit club for his career as he collected three hits in the series versus Talladega. He now has 61 hits on the season while batting .370 for the year. Cameron Pearson (Orlando, FL) and Ismael Perez (Brooklyn, NY) round out the Falcons who own a batting average above .300 as they have batted .330 and .350 this season, respectively, while combining for 83 hits, 14 doubles and 50 RBI's.
The pitching staff is led by senior hurler Zack Leblanc (Salem, MA) who finished the regular season with an 11-3 record, good enough for second in the NAIA for wins. In 85 innings pitched, Leblanc has struck out 80, has held opponents to a .225 batting average, and has an ERA of 2.45, the lowest amongst regular starters. Junior Randolf Flores (Brooklyn, NY) has been a welcomed addition to the starting staff this season, finishing with a 2.97 ERA, allowing just 10 earned runs in 30 innings pitched while earning a win in his last two eligible starts. The starting staff is rounded out by juniors Johann Doerrer (Dolgeville, NY) and Jose Galan (Alta, PR) who each have five wins this season for the Falcons. In 97 innings pitched, the two have combined for 110 strikeouts, allowing just 41 earned runs in 16 games started. Coach Dulin will rely on a bullpen made up of Norberto Ceballos (Loiza, PR), Yamil Delgado (Caguas, PR), George Gali (Guayama, PR), Raymundo Gomez (Lynn, MA), John Hilcher (Bloomfield, NJ), and John Travieso (Miami, FL). Overall the Falcons are averaging just under nine runs per game, while holding their opponents to 4.5 runs per contest, giving up less than seven hits per game.
Talladega finished 23-21 this season, having given up two losses at the hands of the Falcons this week. The Tornadoes are led by Wilkin Louis, a junior infielder who leads the team in both batting average (.364), hits (48), and doubles (10). Louis went 2 for 5 in the series against the Falcons, finishing with four runs, a double, a pair of RBI's and stole two bags off of Falcons catching. Senior outfielder Julian Lopez has been the most consistent power hitter for his team, leading the team in RBI's (30) and HR's (9). The leadoff hitter batted .384 (5 for 13) in three games versus the Falcons, collecting a double, a homer, and seven RBI's. Junior utility man Manuel Caballero has also provided some pop for his team, as he has tallied 25 RBI's and has 13 extra base hits, including five homeruns. His only two hits in the series with the Falcons found their way over the outfield fence earning his five RBI's. Junior Alexis Ventura is third on his team in hits (38) and leads his team with 20 stolen bases on the season.
The Tornadoes pitching staff is led by Julian Fitts who has started 10 games this season with a 6-2 record to go along with 37 K's. Daniel Castillo leads his team in strikeouts (40) and has the lowest ERA amongst starters with a 4.53. Daniel Padilla has been a force out of the bullpen, closing out many games for his team and has nine saves under his belt, allowing just four earned runs in 28 innings pitched. The Falcons did not face Fitts or Castillo as starters but did face Castillo in one inning of relief with the Falcons collecting two hits in the inning. Padilla threw one inning in the series, not allowing a hit and striking out one. The Falcons faced starters Raymond Hernandez, Gianlucas Lagrutta and Luis Berrios in their three games, with the starters allowing 12 earned runs combined while striking out 12 Falcons in their three starts combined. Overall the Tornadoes are averaging just over five runs per game, while their opponents are scoring 5.5 runs per game, with the pitching staff allowing eight hits per contest.
The A.I.I. Tournament will feature five teams, with the host and #1 seed Georgia Gwinnett earning a first round bye. The Grizzlies finished 40-11 this season and are currently ranked 4th in the NAIA weekly poll. #4 Edward Waters College (26-33) and the #5 College of the Ozarks (23-27) round out the field with those two teams facing off in the first contest of the tournament on Saturday at 11am.
2019 Association of Independent Institutions Baseball Championships
Saturday, May 4
Game 1 – No. 4 Edward Waters College (26-33) vs. No. 5 College of the Ozarks (23-27), 11 a.m.
Game 2 – No. 2 Talladega College (23-21) vs. No. 3 Fisher College (40-14), 3 p.m.
Game 3 – No. 1 Georgia Gwinnett College (40-11) vs. Winner of Game 1, 7 p.m.
Sunday, May 5
Game 4 – Loser of Game 1 vs. Loser of Game 2, 11 a.m.
Game 5 – Winner of Game 2 vs. Winner of Game 3, 3 p.m.
Game 6 – Winner of Game 4 vs. Loser of Game 3, 7 p.m.
Monday, May 6
Game 7 – Winner of Game 6 vs. Loser of Game 5, 11 a.m.
Game 8 – Winner of Game 5 vs. Winner of Game 7, 3 p.m
Tuesday, May 7
Game 9 - If necessary game, 11 a.m.
For the official release from the A.I.I., click here.