MONTGOMERY, Ala. – They seemed to save the best for last in intriguing college baseball.
And neither team wanted to pack away its gear and head onto summer league baseball, summer school or the business world.
Yep, upset-minded Florida Memorial (22-24) edged Albany State (39-11) 5-4 in a tension-filled, 19-inning, five-hour, five-minute fracas in the championship game Saturday in the Black College Baseball World Series presented by Tyson Foods at Riverwalk Park – home of the Class AA Montgomery Biscuits – Saturday night. It is believed to be the longest game in terms of innings in college baseball this season.
The two tournament divisional winners (ASU in NCAA DII and Florida Memorial in NAIA) each notched a 3-0 mark prior to the title contest, and both were playing for their initial BCBWS crowns. It also was the first extra-inning contest in the 13-game meet and the longest game by frames in the three-year history of the event over a total of 39 contests.
ASU’s Jonathan Logsdon started the scoring with an RBI double in the first inning before FMU’s Ulises Rodriguez produced the second run of the contest with a run-scoring fielder’s choice to shortstop and a 1-1 tie. Hill Corley ended the deadlock one inning later with an RBI single and 2-1 lead for the Golden Rams.
Rodriguez then drove home his second third runs of the game in the fifth with a two-run single to reverse the lead at 3-2 FMU’s way.
Then ASU’s Corley performed more heroics with an RBI single in the sixth to knot the game for the second time 3-3.
It stayed that way through the 12th when relief man Jamal Johnson of FMU struck out ASU’s Lavoisier Fisher with the bases loaded and two outs in the bottom half of that frame to end a key threat.
Five innings later, Levis Aguila of FMU parked his second home run of the season in the top of the 17th to give the Lions a 4-3 edge and the first score by either team in 11 innings.
And, of course, Albany State came back to tie the game in the bottom of the 17th on an RBI single by Fisher who redeemed himself for the 12th inning whiff to tie the encounter 4-4.
Then in the top of the 19th inning rightfielder Gabriel Marinez, who had numerous defensive gems in the contest, poled a sacrifice fly to left field to put the Lions ahead again 5-4 – the final outcome in the marathon clash.
It is fitting to name that the pitchers in the game included: Florida Memorial starter Kyle Morrison, Jamal Johnson (who pitched a game-high 9-2/3 innings and allowed just four hits and a run) and Kevin Feliciano. Albany State went with starting righty Tyler Bullock, Calvin Baker, John Luegering, William Beasely, and Luke Addison.
Feliciano (2-0) held ASU scoreless for the final two-plus innings while freshman Luke Addison (3-2) came on to pitch in the 18th and 19th stanzas and was the losing pitcher.
The teams combined for 20 strikeouts 132 official times at bat, 25 hits, and just two errors in 157 chances afield. Outfielders for both teams made circus catches in power alleys, and Marinez launched the only home run in the lengthy skirmish.
It also marked the second year in succession that the NAIA division upended NCAA DII opponents in the finals. Then-NAIA stalwart Edward Waters topped DII contender Kentucky State in another, one-run contest 3-2 in the 2022 finale.
In the Black College Baseball World Series presented by Tyson Foods Home Run Derby presented by Guardian Baseball earlier in the day, Albany State’s Nate Lloyd warmed up for the evening by finishing second to Rust College’s Shemaar Stapleton. Stapleton from Olive Branch, Miss., slammed 15 home runs in three rounds of competition while Lloyd of Oxford, Ala., launched 14.
Other competitors in the elite field were finalists Evan Jones of Tuskegee and Lavoisier Fisher of Albany State along with Kentucky State’s Joseph Esparza, Julian Grier of Tuskegee and Khalil Rodriguez of Rust.