Tennessee Temple – The Tennessee Temple Crusaders wrapped up their season finishing fifth in the USCAA Small College World Series. This was not only the end of their season, but the end of Tennessee Temple as a college. The university was faced with funding issues and the school chose to merge with Piedmont University in Winston Salem, NC. Piedmont does not offer baseball so the underclassmen are now looking for schools to continue their education as well as their playing careers.
Hunter Brown and Cody Wilson both were awarded National All-Academic Honors from the USCAA. Both students have achieved and maintained a college GPA of 3.5 or higher for the current academic year. The pair were recognized for their accomplishments during the opening ceremonies of the World Series in Hampton, VA. Temple Head Coach Greg Bartley said, “It’s been a pleasure to coach these fine young men and I appreciated their efforts both on the field and in the classroom. They led by example and were always there when teammates needed help or guidance with school work while on the road or on campus.”
USCAA World Series Game 1
Hunter Brown was the DH in game 1 as the Crusaders faced Saint Josephs-Vermont. Hunter went 2 for 3 in the game with 2 singles an RBI and 1 run scored. TTU jumped out to an early lead scoring 7 runs in the second inning in-route to the 9-4 victory. The win in game one moved the Crusaders on to face Penn State-Greater Allegany on Thursday.
USCAA World Series Game 2
The Crusaders fell to Penn State-GA by a score of 4-1. Hunter Brown started at first base and was 1 for 3 with a triple and scored the teams only run of the game. Temple missed a couple of chances early to push runs across. Coach Bartley said “The score really does not indicate the effort we had today. We hit the ball really well, actually better than Penn State. Ours found their gloves while theirs found the hole. It was just one of those days. You regroup and come back tomorrow.” The loss dropped Temple into the losers bracket and set up an elimination game with Saint Joe’s of Brooklyn on Friday.
USCAA World Series Game 3
Temple was facing elimination from the tournament on day 3. After a scoreless first inning the Crusaders fell behind 2-0 in the second. The Crusaders battled back scoring 2 runs in the fifth to tie the game. The lead was short lived however as St. Joes would plate a single run in the sixth and add an insurance run in the top of the seventh. The final score was 4-2. Hunter Brown again started at first base and went 0 for 3 on the day. The loss ended the final season of baseball at Tennessee Temple. The Crusaders finished with a record of 21-12.
Many people surrounding the Tennessee Temple baseball squad, players and fans alike, deemed this run to the World Series as “The Last Crusade.” Athletic Director Randy Crawford was on hand to cheer the boys on and stated how proud he was of this year’s team. “They overcame so many obstacles throughout this season. Their home field arrangement with the Chattanooga Lookouts fell through, they only had three practices on a baseball field, and finding out that the school was closing prior to their first ballgame shows everyone what determination they had.” Coach Bartley added, “Many teams would have given up but these guys fed off of it. These young men banded together and became family. Never in my coaching career have I seen a group so close knit. They were going to battle and everyone wanted to be on the frontline. These guys really had something and it is a shame to see it end. We had our best recruiting class ever with this group of freshman. To knock off NAIA powers such as Lee University, Bryan College, Bluefield and Berea speaks boldly of the team’s success. This group would have been something else given three more years together.”
Hunter Brown appears to be headed to Morthland College in Southern Illinois. Morthland plays in the National Christian College Athletic Association (NCCAA) and recently played in the mid-east regional against Lee, Bluefield, and Hiawassee. They are a new school having opened in 2010. Hunter has made one visit to the campus already and plans to visit again over the Memorial Day weekend. Hunter remarked, “Hopefully we can get up there and get everything finalized. I really clicked with Coach Bastain and the team on my first visit. It reminded me a lot of what we had at Temple this year.”
Cody Wilson wrapped up his playing career over the past week. Cody was limited on the mound after recovering from shoulder surgery but could not walk away from the game he loved. Cody took on the responsibilities of coaching first base prior to being released from his injury. He logged several innings near the end of the year. While Cody says he wouldn’t trade anything for the time he spent playing ball and building friendships at Temple, it is time to move on and wrap up his degree. “I didn’t know what to expect when I enrolled at TTU. Through injuries and all the struggles that small colleges face, this team rose above it all. My teammates were more like brothers and together we accomplished so many firsts in the year that was our last,” stated Cody. He ended by saying he was thankful for the friends and family that supported him through his 4-year journey at Tennessee Temple. Without their motivation and support none of this would have been possible.
Keep your eyes open in the fall for other hometown heroes who make the transition from high school athletics to the collegiate level. Grundy County will see more hometown heroes enter