The last the time the Wiley College baseball team competed in a postseason tournament in 2014, Kendrick Biggs was is in his first season as an assistant coach and most of the current roster was in fifth to seventh grade. Nine years later as head coach he looks to lead the Wildcats to a Gulf Coast Athletic Conference title, as they open the 2023 Hope Credit Union Gulf Coast Athletic Baseball Championship against Oakwood University Thursday at the Hank Aaron Sports Academy Smith-Wills Stadium.
Thursday’s game will begin at noon. The tournament is double elimination. The winner will play second seed Dillard University at 9 a.m. Friday, while the loser will face the loser of top seed Rust College and the winner between fourth seed Philander Smith College and fifth seed Tougaloo College at 3 p.m. Friday. All the games will be broadcast on HBCU League Pass +, which can be viewed online or by downloading the application on your device. Tickets can be bought online or at the stadium. The links are available in the baseball schedule on wileyathletics.com.
The Wildcats (20-18) dominated Oakwood University in the three-game series in Huntsville, Alabama. They outscored the Ambassadors 59-2. Oakwood (0-25) is searching for its first victory after restarting its program. Jorge Hernandez leads the team with a .362 batting average and seven RBIs. On the mound, Hernandez leads the team with 26 strikeouts. Jeremy Matos leads the team with 11 runs.
Wiley College lost all three games at Dillard University but held leads in the sixth inning of Game 1 and were one out away from victory in Game 2. The Wildcats took two out of three games against Rust College, with all three games decided by a total of four runs. They swept Tougaloo College and split with Philander Smith. The Wildcats swept the Panthers on the road April 7 and 8 but fell in two of three games at home last week.
Wiley College leads the GCAC in sacrifice flies (16), earned run average (6.64), shutouts (2) and strikeouts (284). It is second in runs (330), home runs (28), runs batted in (250), extra base hits (104), total bases (510) and strikeouts batting (197).
Kai Woodard leads the conference with a .414 batting average. He is second in on-base percentage (.546) and ranks in the top five in home runs (6), walks drawn (24), and sacrifice flies (3). Woodard ranks in the top 10 in runs (29), hits (36) and total bases (62). He hit three of his six home runs during GCAC play.
Jhan Carlos Javier is the conference leader in triples (6). He ranks in the top five for runs (37), hits (44), home runs (5), runs batted in (36) and total bases (79). He is seventh in the conference with eight doubles.
Ivan Del Villar is third in the conference with a .714 slugging percentage. Fourteen of his 27 hits have gone for extra bases. He is fourth in the conference with nine doubles and seventh with four home runs, which were all hit during GCAC play. Del Villar is fourth with a .386 batting average and eighth with 26 RBIs.
Luis Mares picked up 18 hits in his last nine games and rose his batting average to .406, which is second behind Woodard. He is eighth in the conference with 39 base hits and fifth with three triples. Mares is fourth with a .491 on-base percentage and third with four sacrifice hits.
Jalen Porter leads the conference with a 4.42 ERA, two saves and shares the lead with 71 strikeouts. He earned two GCAC Pitcher of the Week awards. Isaac Burciaga leads the conference with seven victories and won his last four starts. He is second with a 5.04 ERA and fourth with 53 strikeouts. Burciaga is the reigning GCAC Pitcher of the Week. Daniel Cox went 4-2 in GCAC play. He is third with 58 strikeouts and fourth in ERA.
Wiley College is making their seventh conference tournament appearance, with the previous six being as a member of the Red River Athletic Conference. It last won a tournament game in 2011 and finished runner-up in the 2007 tournament. Saturday’s games are at noon, 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. Sunday’s championship game is at 1 p.m. with a second game following if necessary.
Burciaga wins GCAC Pitcher of the Week
After pitching his first complete game and setting a new career-high in strikeouts, Wiley College pitcher Isaac Burciaga claims Gulf Coast Athletic Conference Pitcher of the Week for April 17-23.
In the second game against Philander Smith College, Burciaga picked up his seventh victory, which leads the conference. He struck out nine batters in seven innings. From the fifth until the seventh inning, he retired seven straight hitters.
Burciaga has won four straight starts. He is second in the conference with a 5.04 earned run average. He is fourth in the conference with 53 strikeouts. This is the third straight week the award has gone to a Wiley College pitcher. Jalen Porter won the previous two weeks. The award is the sixth won by the Wildcats this season. Allan Mendoza earned Player of the Week for February 20-26. A.J. Garcia earned Pitcher of the Week for March 6-12. Ivan Del Villar won Player of the Week for April 3-9.
The Wildcats finished third in the Gulf Coast Athletic Conference and will face sixth seed Oakwood in their first game of the 2023 Hope Credit Union Gulf Coast Athletic Conference Baseball Championship at noon on Thursday at Smith-Will Stadium inside the Hank Aaron Sports Academy in Jackson, Mississippi.