Baseball opens SAA play with two wins

SEWANEE, Tenn.—Propelled by strong pitching and a potent offense, the Birmingham-Southern baseball team scored a pair of wins over Sewanee, 14-2 and 15-3, Saturday afternoon at Montgomery Field in Sewanee, Tenn. In the conference openers for both squads, the victories improve BSC to 7-1, while Sewanee falls to 5-3.

The Panthers scored early and often in game one as every batter in the BSC lineup safely reached base in their first at-bat in the first inning. With the bases loaded, senior Jeremy Hatley brought home the contest's first run with a single that scored sophomore Taylor McCracken. Brown then singled home senior Evan Grovenstein. The next batter, freshman Zach Wingate, cleared the bases with a three-RBI double to expand the lead to 5-0. After a single from senior Ethan Netherton, junior Jake Campbell's double plated both Wingate and Netherton. BSC's offensive clinic ended with a RBI double from junior Brandon Marino to score Campbell. When the dust settled after the first half of the opening inning, the Panthers used eight hits to score eight runs while stranding only one runner.

The eight runs proved to be more than enough support for junior starter Blake Stevens. He would allow only one run in his five innings of work. Stevens improved his record to 2-0 on the season and in the process fanned seven batters to only one walk issued. Fellow junior Paul Caudill continued the strong work from the hill. In two innings he struck out two more Sewanee batters as only one more run would be scored for the home team.

The Panthers returned to their scoring ways in the third when a McCracken sacrifice fly scored Campbell. Mayfield wrapped up the inning's scoring with a triple that brought home Marino. Brown opened the Panther half of the fourth with a double and came across the plate two batters later off a Netherton RBI to expand the BSC lead to 11-0. Three more runs in the sixth, highlighted by a triple from freshman Jack Rhodes, brought the Panthers to their final tally of 14 runs in the series opener.

Superior batting and pitching from the Panthers continued to be the theme in game two. Senior Miles Nordgren struck out five, walked none, and allowed only one hit in five shutout innings. Nordgren moved to 2-0 this season with a performance that saw no Sewanee batter advance past first base against him and only one hit the ball out of the infield.

BSC did not get on to the scoreboard until the second inning of game two. Brown started the second by drawing a walk and was then immediately brought home one batter later by Wingate's double. Wingate did not have to wait long to come home when three batters later Marino scored the freshman with a RBI single. With the bases loaded in the third, after the first three batters of the inning successfully reached base, Wingate hit a two-RBI double to bring around Hatley and Mayfield. A wild pitch plated Brown and an error then scored Wingate to expand the Panther lead to 6-0. A Marino sacrifice fly in the fifth pushed the BSC advantage to 7-0.

The Panthers bookended their afternoon with another eight-run inning in their final at-bat to match the eight runs scored in inning one of the opener. Junior Casey Lambert's RBI single opened the scoring spree when Caudill crossed the dish. After a single from freshman David Scott, a Mayfield double brought home Lambert and Marino. BSC then capitalized off a Sewanee error that scored Mayfield and Scott. Marino concluded his five-RBI day with a double that cleared the bases and brought home Brown, Rhodes, and junior Justin Haynes.

The Panthers and Tigers finish the series Sunday afternoon at 1 p.m. BSC is at home on Wednesday, hosting in-state non-conference rival Huntingdon at 6 p.m. at Striplin Field.