KINGSPORT, Tenn. — The Truett McConnell Bears clinched a spot in the AAC Tournament Championship and an automatic berth to the 2017 NAIA National Tournament with an 8-2 win over (RV) Bryan College Saturday morning in Kingsport. The NAIA Tournament berth marks the first team sport in TMU history to make it to the national tournament.
The Bears struck first in the third inning after walks to Austin Bishop and Tate Gaines led to Chris Carden's two-RBI single that put TMU on top early. The Bears struck again in the fourth on a Bishop single that scored Evan Bensch to take a 3-0 lead.
The big inning of the game came in the top of the fifth when the Bears struck again. After a leadoff walk to Carden and a double off the fence by Overstreet, Calob Rowland brought both home with a single. After advancing to third on his single via an error, Rowland slid under the tag in the next at bat to give the Bears a 6-0 lead.
Bryan answered with a single run in the sixth, but TMU scored on an error in the eighth to get the run back. Bryan cut the lead to five again in the bottom of the eighth before Bensch put an exclamation point on the game with a bomb to right-center to get to the final score.
Caleb Jameson earned the win in 7.1 innings of work, striking out four while spreading out nine hits, a walk and two runs. Nick Hammonds worked a perfect 0.2 innings in the eighth before Carden worked a perfect ninth to seal the win.
In Pool B play, the Bears outscored their opponents, 27-6, while using just four pitchers in three games.
TMU will now await the Pool A winner to play a winner-take-all championship game. No. 10 Tennessee Wesleyan and Union are currently in action. If TWU wins, they will advance to the championship game, but if Union wins, the two Bulldog teams will play an "if necessary" game. The championship game will be played at noon on Sunday. Stay tuned to @TMUBears for up-to-date information.