2005-2006 Season Review
Overall: 42-20 TranSouth: 13-5 (Second of Seven) Postseason Results: TranSouth Tournament: Defeated Martin Methodist (first round) 7-1, Defeated Union University 2-1 (11 inn.), Lost to Cumberland University (Semifinals) 3-1, Eliminated by Lyon College (Loser’s Bracket Final) 11-3. Region XI Tournament: Defeated by University of the Cumberlands (first round) 6-3, Defeated Cumberland University 9-3, Eliminated Union University 5-1, Eliminated University of the Cumberlands (Semifinals) 10-9 (11 inn.), Eliminated by Cumberland University (Championship Game) 13-3.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – After recording their first ever TranSouth regular and post-season championships in 2005, the Trevecca Trojans came into the 2006 season with a lot of questions. Gone were seven position starters from the 2005 squad, including first team All-American Brad Coon and ace hurler Todd Dunlap, leaving Head Coach Jeff Forehand with a lot of holes to fill. But, as usual, Forehand and his staff brought in a lot of young talent, and what looked like a rebuilding year at the start, turned into the Trojans’ deepest post-season run in recent memory.
Trevecca opened the season with a four game road trip to San Diego, California to take on the Sea Lions of Point Loma Nazarene University. In California, the Trojans struggled, dropping all four games of the series, and after a loss in their Home opener to the University of North Alabama, the Trojans found themselves in an 0-5 hole. But the young group responded, winning six straight games and taking 18 of their next 21 games to take an 18-8 record into the TranSouth opening series with conference newcomer Crichton College.
The Trojans stormed out of the gates in the TranSouth, sweeping the series with the Comets with wins of 4-1, 6-3 in a game that saw Trojan hurler Barrett Brown take a no-hitter through six and two thirds innings, and 11-1. Trevecca carried that momentum into their mid-week game with Spalding University, winning a 7-5 decision in Louisville.
The Trojans took two of three the following weekend at Lyon College, and following an 18-8 defeat at the hands of the Bulldogs of Tennessee Wesleyan College, Trevecca swept their second TranSouth series of the season, this time over the Lions of Freed-Hardeman University on the road in Henderson, Tennessee, and after a mid-week win over Berry College, Cumberland University traveled to Nashville for what proved to be a pivotal series in the TranSouth season.
Trevecca stood at 8-1 entering the series, while the Bulldogs had an unblemished 6-0 mark in the TranSouth. The first game saw Cumberland jump out to an early 4-0 lead, and the game was suspended in the top of the fifth inning due to adverse weather conditions. The game was resumed the next morning, and Cumberland held the Trojans at bay, claming the 5-0 win. Game two also went the way of the Bulldogs, this time a 4-0 decision, before Trevecca was able to salvage the third game of the series with a 4-3 victory.
After dropping a mid-week game to former TranSouth foe Birmingham Southern college (NCAA D-1) 9-5, the Trojans rattled off seven straight wins, including their third TranSouth sweep of the season. The sweep came in Pulaski, Tennessee as the Trojans took all three games from the Martin Methodist RedHawks for the second consecutive season. The final game of that series saw Zack Hilliard and Eric House each hit grand slams in the same inning. Hilliard racked up three home runs and 14 RBI in the series.
In the final Series of the regular season, the Union University Bulldogs came to Nashville as the Trojans had an outside shot at a piece of a second consecutive TranSouth title. Trevecca, however, could not master the Bulldogs as Union was able to take two of the three games, sending the Trojans into the postseason with the second seed in the conference Tournament.
For the third season in a row, the Trojans opened their post-season against the RedHawks of Martin Methodist, taking a 7-1 win behind an impressive performance from Freshman righty Nick Shoup. The second round saw the Trojans battle the Union Bulldogs for the fourth time in the span of a week. Union took a 1-0 lead into the ninth, but Trevecca scored with two outs in the inning to tie the game, then won the game in the 11th inning, as Gunner Thayer drove home the winning run and set up a third round game with Cumberland University. Eric Van Slyke threw all 11 innings for the Trojans, fanning 12 Bulldogs in the win. Luke Brown took the ball for the Trojans, and allowed only one earned run, but the Trojans gave up two unearned tallies as well, and the Bulldogs downed the Trojans 3-1, sending Trevecca into the loser’s bracket final against Lyon College. Lyon took control of the game from the start, and the Trojans’ offense never quite got on track, as Lyon eliminated Trevecca 11-3.
For the second consecutive season, the Trojans earned a berth into the NAIA Region XI tournament, and for the second year in a row, they faced the Patriots of the University of the Cumberlands. The Trojans had their opportunities to score thanks to four Patriot errors, but they could not manage to scrape across anything until the Cumberlands had a 6-0 lead already, and by then it was too late, as Trevecca fell 6-3 in the opener. In the second game of the tourney, the Trojans found themselves again facing the Cumberland University Bulldogs and their ace Drew Shetrone. Cumberland plated two runs in the top of the first inning, and Shetrone looked to be cruising along in the bottom of the fifth, when the Trojans mounted a five run, two out rally to take a 5-2 lead. Cumberland scored a run in the top of the sixth, but Trevecca answered right back with three to slam the door, eventually closing out the 9-3 victory. Shoup again took the ball for the Trojans in the third round of the tourney against Union, tossing his second complete game of the post-season as the Trojans downed the Bulldogs 5-1 to advance to Championship Sunday. Awaiting them were the Patriots of the University of the Cumberlands, and early on it looked much like the opening game of the tournament, as the Patriots built a 4-0 lead. Trevecca fought back, however, tying the game with four runs in the bottom of the sixth. The Patriots responded with a five-spot in the top of the seventh, to take a 9-4 lead. The Trojans cut the lead to 9-6 with a pair of runs in the bottom of the frame, and then in the ninth, Trevecca mounted a three run rally to tie the game at 9-9. In the bottom of the 11th, Zack Hilliard ended it for the Trojans with a lead-ff, walk-off home run to give Trevecca the 10-9 win and send them into their first ever Regional Championship Game. The Trojans faced Cumberland University in the title game, but were unable to hang with the high-powered offense of the Bulldogs, falling in the title game 13-3.
The Trojans had two players take weekly awards in the TranSouth on the year, Maurice Cole took player of the week honors on March 27, and Eric Van Slyke earned the Pitcher of the week nod on April 24, a week in which he was also named NAIA Region XI pitcher of the week.
Five Trojans made the TranSouth all-conference teams. Maurice Cole was named the first team all TranSouth second baseman, Eric Van Slyke was named a first team All-TranSouth pitcher, Chris Lowe was named to the second team all-conference outfield, Barrett Brown was named a second team all-TranSouth pitcher, and Dylan Lynch was named second team all-conference designated hitter.
The Trojans finished the year with a 42-20 mark, their third consecutive 40 win season, a first in school history. They also set two team records this year, blasting 138 doubles, and notching 11 saves. Individually, Zack Hilliard tied Brad Coon (2005), Rob Gassie (1975), and Ed Stewart (1982) for the most triples in a single season with eight. Maurice Cole set the single season record for doubles with 27, out-dueling Hilliard (23) who also broke the old mark of 22 set by Billy Aviles in 1997. Eric Van Slyke notched the first 14 win season ever by a Trojan hurler, breaking the old record of 12 set by Randy Burgett in 1980. Van Slyke fell 3 strikeouts short of the single season mark of 126, set by Burgett in 1978 and 1980, and Chris Fowler set a new benchmark for saves in a season, recording six on the year, breaking the old record of five set by Steve Smith in 1987 and equaled by Keith Orser in 1999.