MARSHALL — Words cannot describe the moment that took place on Sunday evening at Woods Field as East Texas Baptist University won their first-ever American Southwest Conference Baseball Tournament Championship.

No. 20 ETBU came out of the loser’s bracket and won five straight games to claim the championship defeating Hardin-Simmons University twice, 16-8, and 8-1 for the championship. The win put ETBU at 35-11, setting a new record for wins in a season as the 35 wins are third best in NCAA Division III this season behind No. 1 John Hopkins’ 39 wins and No. 3 Shenandoah’s 36 wins.

“This was incredible,” Head Coach Jared Hood said. “We were able to pull this victory out with five straight wins in the last three days. What these kids just did completed was incredible. There was nobody that could have accomplished what we just accomplished with that amount of games, that much fire power offensively, and the arms left we had, nobody was built for this but us. That is attributed to my coaching staff, their recruiting, the hard they have put in, the weekends we are away from our families to go and be able to find these kids and bring them here. You promise them a dream and vision and they made it a reality.”

In six games, ETBU produced 75 runs, 19 home runs, 19 doubles and 73 RBI with a .775 team slugging percentage. The pitching staff used 11 pitchers finishing with 40 strikeouts and a 6.23 ERA.

Jagger Neely, who started just six games all year, pitched the championship game (game two on the day), going eight innings and allowing just four hits, recording six strikeouts and no runs. For that performance, he was named the Most Outstanding Player of the ASC Tournament.

Offensively, Jake Miller hit .550 with 15 RBI, five doubles, one grand slam home run, and six runs scored with a .950 slugging percentage. Jase Jones finished with a .520 average recording 30 total bases, nine RBI, four home runs, five doubles, 13 hits, and 10 runs scored. Ben Lea had a .391 average but hit five home runs to break the ETBU single season record of 21 set in 1977 finishing with 27 total bases, nine RBI, and 11 runs scored. Brett Wagner collected 13 RBI with two home runs as Carson Wilson and Jordan Hara both had three home runs.

The combined offensive power and strong pitching performances set ETBU apart from the other ASC programs in the tournament.

Jones said after the game, “This team is just so special, and the energy we had in the dugout and everything this program deserves from top to bottom to the players and all the coaching staff, this program deserves every moment of this and we love it.”

The day started with game one at 1 p.m. and lasted over four hours due to a weather delay. HSU jumped out a 4-0 lead after the top of the third inning. In the bottom of the inning, and only one out, three straight walks led to a bases loaded situation. HSU’s Brandon Girod was relieved as Caleb Smith came in to face Wagner. Wagner didn’t take long to test the pitcher as unleashed a moon shot to left centerfield to tie game at four. An almost hour ran delay came to send both teams away from the field.

When the game restarted, HSU answered back quickly as Luke Kirkbride had a first-pitch swing off of Matthew Irwin for a two-run homer and a 6-4 lead. That didn’t last long as Hara answered back in the bottom of the inning connecting on a three-run home run to retake the lead, 7-6. Miller doubled in two runs in the fifth making it 9-6 and then ETBU recorded five runs in the sixth inning to extend the lead to eight, 14-6.

Lea’s NCAA Division III leading 22nd home run came in the seventh inning for a 15-6 lead. Jones then homered in the eighth inning for a 10-run lead, 16-6. HSU added two more runs in the ninth on a home run for the 16-8 final.

Jacob Evangelista, Jones, Nicolas Chavez and Miller all had two hits as Wagner led the team with five RBI. Hara added three RBI and Jones, Chavez and Miller all had two RBI. Jacob Sherman started the game going one inning. Irwin followed with three innings of work and two strikeouts and two earned runs. Trent Clark followed for the win going three innings, allowing just two hits, no runs and one strikeout. Ben Burroughs finished the final two innings with two strikeouts an two earned runs.

That win led to a final game for the championship. ETBU used nine pitchers to this point in the tournament and called upon Jagger Neely to step up and start his seventh game of the year. He came on and pitched his career best, going eight innings with six strikeouts, no runs, and four hits to earn his second win on the year. Cody Johnson pitched the ninth inning striking out two batters and the final batter of the game for the win.

Jones was 3-of-4 in the game with two RBI a home run and a double off the top of the wall. Jake Miller added two hits for three RBI as Evangelista had two RBI. Wilson recorded one RBI.

Wilson homered in the first inning for the 1-0 lead. Miller then made it 2-0 in the second on a ground out, and then Evangelista followed with a single up the middle scoring Nick Massarini. In the sixth inning, Miller singled in a run and Evangelista recorded a sacrifice fly to make it 5-0. Jones had a two-run home run in the seventh for a seven-run lead. Miller finished off ETBU’s scoring in the bottom of the inning with a single that made it 8-0. HSU’s lone run came in the top of the ninth for an 8-1 final.

This was ETBU’s fourth ASC Tournament Championship game appearance earning their first win. It was the third year in a row to play for the ASC Tournament Championship, also. They will now wait a week to see where they will be going as an automatic qualifier for the NCAA Division III Tournament.