DOBSON — For the first time since 2004, Surry Community College’s baseball team is the Region X champion. In the process, the Knights swept the region’s postseason awards and advance to this weekend’s district tournament against Prince George’s Community College with a berth in the College World Series on the line.
After starting the season with a miserable 2-10 record, SCC (28-20-1) has won 28 of its past 38 games and is currently ranked 11th in the nation among NJCAA Division III teams. Along the way, Surry went 12-3 in Region X play to win the league’s regular season title to set the team up for the top seed in the Region X Tournament over the weekend at Danville.
Freshman Tyler Lundy hurled a complete game in the tournament opener, a 5-1 victory over Thomas Nelson CC on Saturday. The Knights then defeated Danville in a 12-11 thriller Sunday to advance to the championship round. Danville stayed alive with a 15-12 victory in the first game of a doubleheader Monday, but Surry rallied for a 16-10 win in the championship game.
Making SCC’s Region X championship run this year even more remarkable is the fact that this is the program’s first winning season in seven years. Head Coach Tim Collins, who has been named Region X Coach of the Year, said the Knights are talented. More importantly, they are a team — in every aspect of the word.
“They are extremely talented. More than that, they are a very close-knit bunch. They spend a lot of their free time together and they are very supportive of each other,” Collins said. “We’ve got real good sophomore leadership. They have been good leaders, good academic students, and they are just good people altogether.”
Collins said Sunday’s game with Danville was tight the whole way with a lot of offense, but sophomore Tyler Sellers threw the final three innings to earn the save for the Knights. Surry appeared to be well on its way to the tournament title in the first game Monday, building an 11-1 lead over Danville. The game would have been over by the mercy rule in any other instance, but the 10-run rule doesn’t apply in the championship rounds. Danville battled all the way back to win 15-12, then took a 4-1 lead in the deciding game.
The championship game was a back-and-forth affair with Surry rallying for a 5-4 lead, then going up 10-5 before Danville scored four straight runs to make it 10-9. The Knights scored six of the final seven runs, however, to clinch the tournament title.
“Both teams were short of pitching at that point. We had played three games in four days. We really just outhit them, but the last game we had three guys that stepped up that haven’t pitched a lot this year,” Collins said. “Tyler Sellers start it. He asked me to give him the ball. He’s thrown well this year and he three three-and-a-third innings. Then Joey Skinner came in and three three-and-a-third real well, Jake Carter gave us an inning and Tyler Lundy closed it, so our young pitchers stepped up.”
Chase Snyder had an incredible Region X Tournament, leading the Knights at the plate by going 11-of-17 with 12 RBI over the four games. In Sunday’s win over Danville, Snyder went a perfect 5-for-5 at the plate. Collins said catcher Neil Hutchens also had a good tournament.
“His legs were gone; he couldn’t catch the second game. We brought him in to pinch-hit with the bases loaded and he got a big hit,” Collins said. “A.J. Canine also hit the ball real well for us.”
Collins credits two important factors for the Knights’ baseball revival in 2017 — a never-say-die attitude and an incredible fan base.
“They don’t ever quit. They have a great desire. They love the game and they play hard. They don’t ever think they are beat,” Collins said. “And then we had a two-and-a-half hour ride (to Danville) and we had more fans than anybody. We had the college and the parents there. Our fans have really supported us this year and I think that is a big difference. Danville was the home team and Rockingham is 30 minutes away, and we had more fans probably than they had combined. It’s been a good experience.”
Surry will now travel to the District J Tournament in Maryland to face Prince George’s Community College in a best-of-three series. The two teams will play a doubleheader Friday and a championship game Saturday, if necessary. The winner moves on to the College World Series.
Meanwhile, the postseason awards have already started to pour in for SCC. Joining Collins as coach of the year is Region X Player of the Year Jordan Huntley and Region X Pitcher of the Year Matthew Lambert. Huntley, a centerfielder from Butler High School, and Lambert, a sophomore pitcher from North Stanly, also earned All-Region X First Team honors. Joining them on the all-region first team are Surry’s Sawyer Davis (a sophomore first baseman from Starmount), Chase Snyder (a sophomore right fielder from Reagan High School), and Daniel Thompson (a freshman designated hitter from North Lincoln).
Surry players selected to the All-Region X Second Team are Hunter Travis (a shortstop from South Rowan), Austin Buchanan (a sophomore left fielder from East Lincoln), Neil Hutchens (a sophomore catcher from Forbush) and Tyler Lundy (a freshman pitcher from Grayson County, Va.).
Huntley and Lambert also have been selected to the Region X All-Defensive team along with Surry second baseman Zach Biesemeyer (a freshman from Glenn High School).