Southern Poly beat Faulkner 6-3 on Saturday in Montgomery, Ala., clinching the championship of the Southern States Athletic Conference tournament.
In advance of the university’s merger with Kennesaw State, Southern Poly’s athletic department is shutting down, leaving the baseball team as the last ones to carry the Hornets banner.
Ranked 14th in the NAIA, Southern Poly (42-16) has won 18 of its last 20 games. It will resume its final season May 12 for the first round of the NAIA tournament.
The Hornets never trailed Saturday and got off to a quick start, taking advantage of the lack of control Faulkner pitcher Matt Martin showed, and scored three runs in the top of the first inning.
Leadoff batter Darius Reese was hit by a pitch, and then advanced to third on a pair of wild pitches. Dalton Martinez drew a one-out walk before Khirus Ware’s single scored Reese.
After Tyler Roach was walked on four straight pitches to load the bases, another four-pitch walk to Tyler Garner forced Martinez home from third. Martin got Matt Miller to strike out on the next at-bat, but Chad Livingston singled to score Ware.
In all, Martin threw eight walks before being removed after 2 2/3 innings.
Faulkner (46-14) responded with a pair of runs on Elvis Rodriguez’s home run in the second, but Southern Poly got three runs back in the fourth.
After Montgomery native Tremayne Hardin led off with a walk, he moved to third on Martinez’s single and then scored when Darius Holguin’s throw to first on a Ware grounder was wide of the bag. Martinez then scored on Roach’s grounder before Garner’s sacrifice fly scored Ware.
The six runs was more than enough for Southern Poly right-hander Zach Smith, who went the distance, striking out 11 to just one walk.
Martinez and Ware each finished with three hits on the day.
Rodriguez had three hits for Faulkner, the defending national champion and won the SSAC’s regular-season champion. The Eagles entered the conference tournament ranked fourth in the country.