They have been playing baseball since 1888 at Clark-Atlanta University. In fact, the first matchup between two Black college teams pitted Clark College against Atlanta University. The two schools consolidated 100 years later to become Clark-Atlanta University. Perhaps, few games have been as exciting as the Kentucky State University match against Clark-Atlanta University on February 16, 2019.
Joe Crisp, at five feet and nine inches on a 155-pound frame, tossed his first collegiate no-hitter, striking out nine and winning the game 3–0. The 20-year-old married computer science major was in control of the game from the first pitch until the last.
“I am very proud of my guys,” Head Baseball Coach Rob Henry said following his team’s victory. The Thoroughbreds are undefeated with four wins and one tie.
Crisp, matched in a pitcher’s duel with CAU’s John Nettles, said he was prepared to pitch as many innings as it took to secure the win for KSU. In last season’s Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SIAC) Tournament, Crisp pitched 18 innings in three days. In that tournament, KSU lost the championship game to Albany State University. They are expected to compete for the title again this year.
“He will pitch every day if I let him,” Coach Henry said.
“I had my fastball and slider working for me today,” Crisp said, adding, “I only threw two curves, but my slider had so much bite on it that it looked like a curveball.”
Across the diamond, for seven innings, John Nettles was equally superb for CAU. Nettles with an assortment of breaking pitches struck out 11 batters. A defensive error in the top of the eight (this was scheduled as a seven-inning game) on a grounder hit to third base opened the door for KSU to break the ice.
Nettles from Marrow, Georgia is a preseason selection as a Second Team All-SIAC pitcher. Also, he made second-team All HBCU pitcher in a poll conducted by Black College Nines.
Jay Poullard, a senior from Louisville’s Ballard High, was the hitting star for KSU. He collected three hits off Nettles.
Next weekend, Clark-Atlanta University will renew the oldest HBCU baseball rivalry when they host Morehouse College. The two schools have been playing baseball since 1892.
Harold Michael Harvey is an American novelist and essayist. He is a Contributor at The Hill, SCLC National Magazine, Southern Changes Magazine, Medium, and Black College Nines. He can be contacted at email@example.comS