Staff Writer: Luke Tucker
WINGATE, N.C. — The Wingate Bulldogs baseball program had quite the summer, winning the school’s first national championship in thrilling fashion against Central Missouri, then a month later saw two players agree to terms with Major League Baseball clubs.
Pitcher Hunter Dula was selected in the 18th round of the MLB draft by the San Francisco Giants, while Tommy McCollum was signed after the draft by the Philadelphia Phillies.
Dula pitched four years for the Bulldogs, posting a career 2.96 ERA over 109.1 innings. He started 11 games during Wingate’s championship season in 2021, including the national title game. Dula graduated as a two-time All-South Atlantic Conference selection, and was named the SAC Tournament MVP in 2021.
McCollum also put together a very impressive collegiate career. In 44 games, he struck out 80 batters, despite working only 57.1 innings. He finished his Wingate career with a 4.24 ERA.
Both pitchers have since been given minor-league assignments, with Dula representing the Giants in the Arizona Complex League and McCollum joining the Clearwater Threshers at the Low-A MiLB level.
In seven appearances with Clearwater, McCollum has continued his high-strikeout tendencies, fanning 14 in 10.1 innings of work. His best outing with the Threshers came on Aug. 29 where he retired the opponent’s final four batters on just 11 pitches to earn the first save of his professional career.
McCollum has struggled with walks–10 so far–which has inflated his opponent’s OBP through his first seven games. However, opponents are still slashing just .189/.367/.611 against him and have only mustered two extra-base hits in 37 at-bats.
Dula has been equally, if not more, impressive while playing rookie ball with the Giants. In seven games (all in relief), he has surrendered only two base hits and has held opponents to a .056 batting average. Dula has yet to face a decision, but earned his first save on Sept. 2 after striking out the side to finish the game.
The two pitchers continue an impressive run of talent that Wingate has seen go pro recently, joining Dodson McPherson, Thomas Spitz, Shane Billings, and Kory Behenna as recent Bulldogs to play affiliated baseball.