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The Road to Grand Junction begins for top-ranked Tallahassee
 May 10, 2013

LAKELAND, Fla. (May 10, 2013) – With, arguably, the program’s greatest regular season in the books, Tallahassee Community College’s baseball team returns to the diamond on Friday with the hopes of adding another historic chapter to the 2013 campaign.

Tallahassee plays its first postseason game since 2009 at 1 p.m. when it takes on Hillsborough Community College at the NJCAA Gulf District/FCSAA State Baseball Tournament in Lakeland, Fla.

Hear Tallahassee head coach Mike McLeod talk about the Eagles' postseason opener.

The eight-team, double-elimination event will take place at Joker Marchant Stadium, spring training home of Major League Baseball’s Detroit Tigers.

All games will be carried live by Panhandle Sports Broadcasting at www.PSBlive.com.

McLeod’s Eagles are one of the favorites to emerge from Lakeland with the championship banner and the accompanying berth to the JUCO World Series in Grand Junction, Colo., which would be Tallahassee’s first-ever trip to the NJCAA’s premiere baseball event – and for good reason.

Tallahassee is ranked No. 1 in the NJCAA’s Division I Baseball Poll and has sat atop the FCSAA Baseball Coaches’ Poll since mid-March. The Eagles are No. 2 in Perfect Game’s JUCO Top 50.

Rankings aren’t the only gaudy numbers on Tallahassee’s resume. The Eagles boast a 45-8 record and won their sixth Panhandle Conference Championship with a 16-4 mark.

Those numbers, however, will be tested in a big way on Friday when Hillsborough sends ace right-hander Ryan Etsell to the mound. Though only 6-3, he has struck out 97 batters and issued only nine walks in 101.0 innings – numbers that overshadow the Hawks’ 23-26-1 overall record.

Win or lose, Tallahassee will play on Saturday against either St. Johns River State College or Palm Beach State College. If the Eagles win on Friday, they’ll move into Saturday’s 4 p.m. winners’ bracket game; lose, and they’ll start the morning at 10 a.m. in an elimination contest.

NJCAA Gulf District/FCSAA State Baseball Tournament Notes

•         Tallahassee is making its eighth postseason appearance, all under the direction of head coach Mike McLeod.
•         In seven previous trips to the NJCAA Gulf District/FCSAA State Tournament, the Eagles are 8-14. In its most recent appearance (2009), Tallahassee went 2-2.
•         Tallahassee played three of the other seven tournament teams during the 2013 season, posting a combined 5-4 record against St. Johns River State (1-1), Chipola (3-2) and State College of Florida (1-1). Those three teams accounted for half of the Eagles’ eight losses on the season.
•         Tallahassee and Hillsborough faced four common opponents during the 2013 season – Santa Fe, Pensacola State, Pasco-Hernando and State College of Florida. Tallahassee was a combined 9-2 against the quartet (1-0 vs. Santa Fe, 4-1 vs. Pensacola State, 3-0 vs. Pasco-Hernando, 1-1 vs. State College of Florida); Hillsborough went 5-6 (1-1 vs. Santa Fe, 1-0 vs. Pensacola State, 1-1 vs. Pasco-Hernando, 2-4 vs. State College of Florida).
•         Tallahassee is within three victories of matching its single-season record of 48, set in 2000.
•         Three Eagles, in particular, are leaving their marks on the school record books:
o   Trent Higginbothem
?  Most hits, career: 130 (T-8th)
?  Most doubles, career: 37 (T-2nd)
?  Most RBI, career: 115 (2nd)
?  Most doubles, season: 25 (1st)
?  Most RBI, season: 66 (3rd)
?  Most HBP, season: 16 (T-5th)
o   Clay Fenwick
?  Highest batting average, season: .434 (2nd)
?  On-base percentage, season: .523 (2nd)
?  Runs scored, season: 65 (T-3rd)
?  Hits, season: 85 (2nd)
o   Anthony Torres
?  Most stolen bases, career: 46 (3rd)
?  Most stolen bases, season: 26 (7th)

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