BIRMINGHAM, Ala.--A complete game gem from sophomore pitcher Blake Stevens and a solid defensive effort earned the Birmingham-Southern baseball team a 5-1 win over Centre College Friday night in the opening round of the inaugural Southern Athletic Association Baseball Championship at Striplin Field.
The victory moves the Panthers to 28-13 on the season, while the Colonels of Centre College drop to 13-24.
After Centre stranded two runners in the top of the first inning, the Panthers were the first to post a run on the scoreboard in the home half of the first. With two outs already against the Panthers, sophomore Jacob Mayfield drew a free pass to first off Centre's only walk allowed on the night. Mayfield was advanced to second by junior Jeremy Hatley's single, then scored off sophomore David Bourbonnais's RBI single to right field.
Centre's lone run in the top of the third courtesy of a sacrifice fly to right field would tie the game, but that was when Stevens started silencing Colonel bats, allowing only one more hit for the rest of the game. After the third inning, Stevens would face a mere 21 batters to get the final 18 outs the Panthers needed to put the game away. The right-handed ace struck out ten on the night while improving his record to 4-2 on the season.
The Panthers added the go-ahead run in the sixth when Hatley reached base with a lead-off single and then came home three batters later thanks to a Centre throwing error. BSC would also plate an additional three insurance runs in the eighth. Mayfield's lead-off single, one of his game-high four hits, was followed by a double down the right field line from Hatley, putting runners on second and third for Bourbonnais. The sophomore proceeded to stroke a triple to right center to score Hatley and Mayfield. One batter later, Bourbonnais came home from an RBI-single off the bat of sophomore catcher Tanner McGill.
The Panthers will march on in the tournament on the winner's side of the bracket with an 11 a.m. tilt against third-seeded Berry College.