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ETBU baseball defying the odds during historic season

Despite the adversity, the Tigers continue to find ways to win.

MARSHALL, Texas — With their backs against the wall, the East Texas Baptist University baseball team never gave up. In fact, that's just when they got stronger.

With their season on the line in the American Southwest Conference tournament, the Tigers won five straight elimination games to take home the trophy and a bid to the national tournament, where they even got the opportunity to host the regionals.

On their home field, they experienced the biggest joy of them all on Sunday afternoon: winning the regional tournament in front of their Tiger faithful.

"Day in and day out, game after game. Nothing's too big, nothing's too small," said head coach Jared Hood. "They just remain consistent and go out there and play."

The Tigers have faced plenty of adversity this season, not just in the conference tournament. But when you're talking about perseverance, you have to mention the story of fifth year senior Jake Miller.

Dealing with some major pain, Miller looked to find the solution to his problems. The diagnosis confirmed what he had been feeling. He had tears in both hips and would need surgery to repair it as soon as possible.

As a result, the senior leader was faced with a major decision about his future.

"It was an interesting decision this summer, figuring it all out. Do I get surgery and come back just in time for the season? Or do I figure out my future. I want to go win the conference championship," Miller said. "We were so close the last two years, and I know we had a good recruiting class. Also, one more year with these guys is something amazing."

The decision had been made. As one of the guys that the younger players look up to, Miller wanted to remain a big presence on the team. Plus, as he mentioned, the Tigers had unfinished business.

He found himself battling the injury while also stuck in the midst of a slump. Looking for a way to clear his mind, he stumbled upon what turned into his new good luck ritual.

"I went to Broken Bow, Oklahoma and did some fly fishing. You know, it's just a mental break, doing some bass fishing at a little pond we found," Miller said. "Then I had a weekend like that, and I've just been going all the time. Fishing every day now."

The weekend he was referring to came when it mattered most. Facing elimination in the ASC tournament, Miller put together an absolute heater of a weekend. In six games, he batted .550 with 15 RBI's and a grand slam.

It's helped fuel the team to the point they're at now --- ASC tournament champions, regional tournament champions, and now a chance to go to the Division III World Series.

Even better, they'll have the chance to make that happen on their home field yet again. They'll host La Verne in a best-of-three series to advance to the World Series.

If there's anything to know about ETBU baseball, it's that they're not backing down from any challenge tossed their way. Now that they've made it this far, they're not planning on stopping anytime soon.

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