by RENALDO DORSETT
Summer months mean postseason baseball for NCAA Division I programmes, and a trio of Bahamians will prepare to chase the Sun Belt Conference Championship this week with their respective universities.
Trae Sweeting and Gerrio Rahming are expected to suit up for the Georgia State University Panthers while, on the other half of the bracket, Perez Knowles and his Troy University Trojans are slated to begin play in the Sun Belt Conference Championship at Riddle-Pace Field in Troy, Alabama, on Wednesday.
The Trojans are the second-seeded team in the field and will face the number No.7 seed Texas-Arlington Mavericks.
The Panthers, who finished the regular season at 29-25 and 15-13 in Sun Belt play, will be the No. 5 seed in the the bracket and are slated to open the tournament against No.4 Georgia Southern, who ended the year with a 30-25 record.
It will be the fourth consecutive matchup between the two teams after they faced off in the regular season series finale.
The Sun Belt tournament will be played in a double-elimination format and is scheduled to run from May 20 to the title game on Sunday, May 24.
All games will be available via webstream on SunBeltSports.org. All weekend games, including Sunday’s championship, will be aired live on ESPN3.
Knowles, a left-handed relief pitcher, appeared in 14 games for the Trojans as a freshman. He appeared in 14 innings, with 11 strikeouts and an ERA just over seven.
Prior to signing with the Trojans, Knowles starred on the high school level in Rabun Gap, Georgia.
From the mound, he led his Eagles team to playoff all four years of high school and was named all-conference his freshman, sophomore and junior seasons and was named 2014 Preseason Under Armour All-American.
This season, Rahming looks to work his way into becoming a key contributor while it was a breakout one for Sweeting.
In his freshman campaign, Rahming has been a baserunning spark off the bench for the Panthers. He appeared in 25 games with one start, stole four bases in four attempts, scored five runs and knocked home one RBI.
In high school, Rahming was a teammate alongside Knowles at Rabun Gap-Nacoochee School where he was a three-year letter winner and two-time all-conference selection. He was also a 2014 Southeast Region honourable mention by Perfect Game and was named to Perfect Game’s 2013 Preseason Underclass All-America team.
Sweeting, a catcher and outfielder, has been vital for the Panthers off the bench and has produced the best numbers of his young career thus far. He appeared in 39 games, including 25 starts.
Sweeting is hitting .296 with an on-base percentage of .405 with five doubles, 12 RBI and seven stolen bases in eight attempts. He also recorded a triple, scored 19 runs and collected 36 total bases. He recently produced his first four-RBI game recently in a 7-4 win over Kennesaw State University.
In his freshman season as a key bench player, Sweeting eventually earned more playing time as the season progressed. He appeared in 32 games, including 12 starts, hit .333 with seven RBI and was the team’s top pinch-runner who scored 17 runs and added four stolen bases. He led the team with three triples, along with two doubles and one home run.
After a stellar career at Christ School in Arden, North Carolina, Sweeting has also made a seamless transition in the classroom at the collegiate level. He was a member of the Athletic Director’s Honour Roll for the fall 2013 semester.