Fresh off a triumphant tenth-anniversary season, the Texas Collegiate League released its 2014 schedule Wednesday.
The TCL reached new heights in a 2013 campaign that saw the Brazos Valley Bombers not only capture the league title, but Brazos Valley was also named summer collegiate national champions by Perfect Game. The Bombers became the first league champion to win the national title.
The Bombers will begin their title defense on May 29, the earliest starting date in league history. Brazos Valley will visit the Acadiana Cane Cutters, while the Texas Marshals host the 2012 champion East Texas Pump Jacks and the Victoria Generals, the champs in 2011, travel to The Woodlands to take on the Strykers.
The Bombers, Pump Jacks and Generals all open their home slates five days later, on June 3. Brazos Valley will host the Cane Cutters, East Texas will welcome the Strykers, and Victoria will play host to the Marshals.
Victoria and Brazos Valley will meet in Bryan, Texas, on June 5 for a rematch of the 2013 TCL Championship Series. Last summer, the Bombers erased a 5-1 deficit with a six-run fifth inning in the decisive third game of the series to clinch the championship.
This will be the fourth season the TCL has utilized a 60-game, split-season format for its schedule. The first half will conclude on July 2, after the 30th scheduled game for all teams. Both the division champion and second-place team at the end of the first half will clinch a playoff spot and home-field advantage in the first round of the postseason.
On July 3, all win-loss records are reset to 0-0 for the second half of the season. Once again, the top two teams in the second half will reach the playoffs. Should a team earn a playoff spot in both halves, the final berth will go to a wild card team with the next-best overall record.
The schedule retains the balanced format used last season. All teams will play three successive two-game series every week. Monday will serve as a league-wide off-day throughout the summer. Each team will make three, two-game visits to all other cities during the season.
The league’s best players will meet on Tuesday, July 9, for the 2014 Texas Collegiate League All-Star Game. The TCL event will precede its major league counterpart by one week, with the site to be announced soon. The 2013 TCL All-Star Game was played in East Texas last summer, with the Generals playing host in 2012.
The regular season will come to a close on Friday, August 8, with the TCL playoffs to follow.
Individual team schedules will be released and posted by each team. The complete league schedule will be posted shortly on the official TCL website, tclbaseball.com.
The TCL began play in 2004 and quickly became one of the top summer collegiate leagues in the nation. Last summer, Brazos Valley captured the first national championship in league history just one year after three TCL franchises ranked in the top-40 of Perfect Game’s 2012 summer collegiate rankings. Former Pump Jack, Hunter Dozier, was selected eight overall by the Kansas City Royals in the 2013 MLB draft, the first top-ten pick in TCL history. In total, more than 300 TCL players have been drafted by major league teams and no fewer than a dozen have played in the big leagues. Notable league alumni include members of the last two World Series winners: Clay Buchholz of the 2013 champion Boston Red Sox, and Hunter Pence and Brandon Belt, who both helped lead the San Francisco Giants to the 2012 title.