By GARY STALLARD
The line drives are back.
Of all the season-closing signs considered most welcome, those gappers and line huggers so sorely missing for a few weeks may be the most welcome.
Just in time, too, as the Angelina College Roadrunners open the Region XIV Baseball Conference Championship tournament Sunday in Beaumont.
The 'Runners ended the regular season having won seven of their last eight games. In that stretch, AC's offense averaged 8.3 runs per game, including a 15-0 win over Paris College in the season finale. There were a few homers in the mix, but the majority of the runs produced came from those all-important line drives. The late-season hitting streak raised the team batting average to over .300 (.301) for the first time all season.
That's exactly the sort of production head coach Jeff Livin needed to see heading into the tournament, especially considering the way the team has had to re-shuffle its pitching rotation. Sean Bergeron, a 1st Team All-Conference selection, has been the mainstay, allowing just two hits in his last two starts – including a no-hitter against Northeast Texas on April 26. Bergeron also struck out 97 hitters in just 67 innings for the season. Lance Lusk was second on the team in innings pitched with 50, fanning 51 hitters in that span. Wes Gafford stepped out of his relief role and pitched well enough as a starter to earn 2nd Team All-Conference honors; and Drew Shifflet alternated starts with relief appearances to pitch 48.2 innings to average 11.86 strikeouts per game. Toss in big lefty Dalton Roblin, who acted as the team's primary closer down the stretch, and the 'Runners managed to fit together a solid staff heading into the playoffs.
The Roadrunners (31-19) will face Blinn College (28-21) at 10 a.m. Sunday at Lamar University in Beaumont. All tournament games will be live streamed on the Texas Sports Radio Network (TSRN).
The e-mail address for AC's Sports Information Director is firstname.lastname@example.org.