When Sherman Reed sought to introduce new pitching coach Sean Repay to the pitchers on his Coppin State baseball group in July, the 12-year coach distributed a Zoom hyperlink with the heading, “Meeting: Road to the 2022 NCAA Regionals.”
That prediction appears prophetic now after the Eagles, the No. 2 seed within the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference Tournament, upended top-seeded Delaware State two video games to at least one at Norfolk State’s Marty L. Miller Field in Norfolk, Virginia, for the league championship over the weekend. They earned their first berth in an NCAA Regional and can be taught the id of their opponent throughout a range present on May 30 at midday.
“I’m going to need somebody to pinch me because it feels like I’m dreaming,” Reed mentioned Saturday night time because the group returned dwelling after rallying for an 18-12 victory over the Hornets within the second sport of Saturday’s doubleheader. “This has been a whirlwind couple of days, 72 hours. It’s surreal.”
Coppin State (24-28) captured its first MEAC championship since 1995, matched a program file for wins in a single season and picked up the athletic division’s first convention title since 2008 when Fang Mitchell and the boys’s basketball squad edged Morgan State.
“It’s pretty amazing that we were able to do this special thing for the school, this team, and Baltimore,” redshirt junior third baseman Brian Nicolas mentioned. “I think it’s great that we’re able to bring this back after such a long time.”
The Eagles appeared poised to comb Delaware State (25-23) after cruising to a 15-5 romp in eight innings on Friday. But sophomore right-hander Evan Harris racked up 11 strikeouts in 9 innings to energy the Hornets to a 4-3 determination Saturday afternoon that delayed a coronation for Coppin State.
“We tried to do our best, but we tip our caps to that pitcher,” Eagles senior proper fielder Marcos Castillo mentioned. “He pitched one hell of a game. So into the next game, we kind of knew that we had to give it all we can, that we couldn’t let up. The energy was the main thing we had. We wanted to keep the vibes up.”
Coppin State opened Saturday’s finale by erupting for 5 runs within the high of the primary inning. Delaware State responded with seven unanswered runs in a four-inning span to imagine a 7-5 lead after the fifth. The Eagles plated three runs within the high of the seventh, however the Hornets returned the favor with 4 runs of their half of the inning.
Coppin State scored two extra runs within the high of the eighth inning, however nonetheless trailed Delaware State, 11-10. In their ultimate inning, the Eagles exploded for eight runs on the power of two-run singles by freshman shortstop Josh Hankins and sophomore first baseman Sebastien Sarabia and a three-run double by redshirt sophomore catcher Mike Dorcean.
“Knowing that we could come back because we had seen it happen made us believe,” mentioned sophomore designated hitter Jordan Hamberg, who scored on Dorcean’s double. “We all just had good at-bats, and no one really gave up. So we continued to work hard, and it ended up working out for us.”
Castillo mentioned hitting coach Jovanny Zarzabal introduced the gamers collectively earlier than the ultimate inning to encourage them and added that he instructed a few of his teammates, “I smell five runs.”
“We kind of had faith and belief that we were going to scratch out two runs to get the lead,” mentioned Nicolas, who was named the match MVP after batting .438 (7-of-16), driving in eight runs and scoring six instances. “But we never expected to put up such a big amount. But we came through, and we got the bats hot at the right time.”
Claiming the championship didn’t come off as a shock to Coppin State gamers and Reed — all of whom identified that they completed simply .share factors behind Delaware State after a season-ending four-game collection at Norfolk State was canceled resulting from inclement climate.
Reed mentioned he acquired an inkling of his group’s potential throughout the squad’s first apply of the autumn on Sept. 19.
“All we talked about was, we must not underachieve because we had a [NCAA] Regional-type team,” he mentioned. “We just felt it from the very beginning. It got tough after losing that first game [on Saturday], that one-run loss because Del State just played spectacular. But this team here, we have seen some of the biggest comebacks in our Coppin history, and you can never count them out.”
The title is very significant for Castillo, who sat out your entire 2021 marketing campaign after tearing his proper ACL throughout a base-running drill in fall 2020. He mentioned he’s significantly grateful that he and his teammates had been capable of reward Reed, who molded championship high quality squads in 2018 and 2019 that fell quick within the MEAC Tournament.
“That’s why this championship means so much to me,” he mentioned. “I could come back with the boys and pull this one off against Delaware State, our rival, and Coach Reed can finally hold that trophy up in the air and say that we are MEAC champions.”
The Eagles determine the choice committee would possibly match them towards No. 1 Tennessee (49-7), which is the highest seed within the upcoming Southeastern Conference Tournament. Just don’t anticipate them to be cowed by their opponent simply because this can mark their first NCAA Regional. The 1995 squad misplaced in a play-in sport earlier than the regional.
“We’re excited, and we’re ready to go there and show them what we’ve got,” mentioned Hamberg, who’s the primary Coppin State participant to be named the MEAC’s Pitcher of the Year and was positioned on the league’s first group at each beginning pitcher and utility. “If we play our game, I feel like we have a chance against anyone.”
Reed mentioned he and his gamers obtained some inspiration after Saturday’s title-cementing victory.
“Someone yelled from the stands after we clinched, ‘Now go make some noise in the regional!’ We’ve got that kind of team,” he mentioned. “It would not surprise me at all if we go out there and compete and make some noise. It really wouldn’t.”