JACKSON, Miss — The Wiley College baseball team was unable to hold leads in an 8-5 loss against second seed Dillard University and an 8-3 loss to fourth seed Philander Smith College on the second day of the 2023 Hope Credit Union Gulf Coast Athletic Conference Baseball Championship Saturday at Hank Aaron Sports Academy Smith-Wills Stadium.

The Wildcats (21-20) conclude their first GCAC Baseball Championship.

Wiley College fell behind against Dillard in the second inning after giving up a run on walk, hit batter and a single. It bounced back in the third inning. Tre Wallace led off with a single. With one out, Kai Woodard walked. Ivan Del Villar lined a triple to left-center field, scoring Wallace and Woodard. Isaac Burciaga maintained the lead in the third, only allowing a two-out double.

The Wildcats were unable to take advantage as they were retired in order. Emmanuel Taveras tied the game for Dillard with a home run over the left field wall. Wiley College bounced back in the fifth. Allan Mendoza led off with an infield single. Woodard brought him home with a double to deep left field. A wild pitch moved Woodard to third. Del Villar drove him in with a fly ball to right.

The lead was short-lived. A triple and a hit batter helped the Bleu Devils tie the game. Marquis Kuykendall was unable to pull in the final out which allowed the runner to reach second. A single put Dillard back on top. Wiley College tied it in the sixth. Wallace got hit by a pitch with two outs. Three consecutive walks brought Wallace home with Javier drawing the last one.

Jerrius Vickers relieved Burciaga in the sixth and held the Bleu Devils scoreless. Alexander San Miguel caught a runner stealing second. Wiley College was unable to regain the lead. San Miguel singled but his courtesy runner Julian Rosales was caught stealing. A single and a walk helped Dillard regain the lead for good.

Wiley College only got one hit in the last two innings. Dillard added a pair of insurance runs in the eighth, taking advantage of the Wildcats’ second error.

Del Villar went 2-for-4 and was the only Wildcat with multiple hits. Woodard reached base four times with three on walks. He scored two runs. Wallace scored twice. Burciaga went five innings, allowing five runs on five hits and struck out four. Vickers threw one and 1/3 innings, allowing a run on two hits and struck out one. Jalen Porter tossed the final one and 2/3 innings, giving up two runs with one earned on one hit.

Facing a must-win against Philander Smith, the Wildcats jumped out. Kai Woodard reached second on an errant throw by Philander Smith’s third baseman Juan Zorola. A two-out single by Del Villar brought him home. In the second inning, San Miguel led off with a single and advanced on an errant throw. Kuykendall courtesy ran, stole third and scored on a sacrifice fly by Jacob Perez to extend the lead to two.

Jalen Porter started on the mound and held the Panthers scoreless through the first five innings. He only allowed two hits, two walks and a hit batter. He didn’t receive any run support after the second inning. Woodard led off the third with a double but was thrown out on a double steal attempt. The Wildcats only had one runner reach base in the fourth and fifth innings.

Wiley College was unable to stop the Panthers in the sixth inning. The first seven batters reached base with five reaching via walks or being hit by pitches. When the third was finally recorded, Philander Smith scored seven runs on five hits and brought 11 batters to the plate.

Del Villar led off the sixth with a triple to left and scored on Emanuel Gutierrez fly ball to right center. The Wildcats were unable to mount a late-inning comeback as they only recorded two hits in the last three innings.

Del Villar recorded multiple hits for the second consecutive game. Colby Chilek, who came in as a defensive replacement in the sixth, Jacob Perez and Wallace also recorded base hits. Chance Guidry relieved Porter and pitched to two batters. Dylan Washington finished the sixth only allowing two hits. Dante Enrriquez threw the seventh. Coren Lewis held the Panthers scoreless in the last two innings — only allowing two hits.

The Wildcats will continue their season at the 2023 Black College World Series May 10-13 at Riverwalk Stadium in Montgomery, Alabama. Match-ups and times are to be announced.