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SEARK hosts 1st baseball scrimmage

by Tanner Spearman | September 15, 2023 at 3:52 a.m.
Dominik Tizzano of Southeast Arkansas College winds up for a pitch against Arkansas Baptist College on Thursday at Taylor Field. The game was SEARK's home exhibition debut of its baseball program. (Pine Bluff Commercial/Tanner Spearman)

Southeast Arkansas College made school history Thursday night by hosting a fall baseball scrimmage for the first time.

SEARK defeated Arkansas Baptist College 8-1 at Taylor Field in Pine Bluff as the Sharks prepare for their debut baseball season this spring.

Head Coach Toby Cornejo said it was fun to play in front of the home fans for the first time, though they still have work to do to get ready for the regular season.

"We got some stuff to clean up," Cornejo said. "I think our baserunning. We talk about throwing the first punch offensively, and that first time through the order, we were a little timid. But we're growing. We'll get there."

The Sharks made their fall debut Sept. 7 when they split a road doubleheader at Arkansas State University Mid-South.

Despite it being simply a scrimmage, a good crowd gathered to see the Sharks play. Plenty of SEARK shirts and hats filled the stands at Taylor Field, and one fan even wore a stuffed shark on her head before the game. Despite SEARK having no athletics history prior to this school year, there was plenty of school spirit on display.

Shortstop Cameron Gonzalez said it was nice to have such a great crowd.

"Everything is fun," Gonzalez said. "It's fun to get out here and get after it with the guys. We've been looking forward to this a lot, and to play here in Pine Bluff for the first time, it's really fun to do."

Seven pitchers played for the Sharks in the nine-inning game, and SEARK came one out away from a shutout before Arkansas Baptist finally broke through in the top of the ninth with an RBI single.

Garrett Folmer had one of the more noteworthy outings with five strikeouts in two innings with no hits or walks. He retired all six hitters he faced.

Cornejo said he was pleased with the pitching.

"Good things happen when you throw the ball over the plate," Cornejo said. "I thought we commanded two pitches for a strike. We were on the attack."

The Shark offense broke the scoreless tie with a 6-run fifth inning. SEARK added runs in the sixth and eighth.

Gonzalez, who led off for the Sharks, hit 1-for-4 with 2 RBIs and a run. Angel Castilleja and Darron Degeyter each hit 2-for-3 with an RBI. Castilleja also scored a run.

Gonzalez said the Sharks are excited to be part of the first-ever SEARK baseball team, and they hope to give fans in Pine Bluff a good show to watch.

"It means a lot to us," Gonzalez said. "We got standards to set pretty high. I got faith in the guys. We're going to get it done."

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