No. 12 Panthers drop 5-4 11-inning heartbreaker to No. 13 Shenandoah at NCAA Regional

No. 12 Panthers drop 5-4 11-inning heartbreaker to No. 13 Shenandoah at NCAA Regional
2014 BSC Baseball Seniors. L to R: Assistant Coach J.D. Hulse, Assistant Coach Nathan Bland, Miles Nordgren, Jake Campbell, Kevin Shelton, Evan Grovenstein, Jeremy Hatley, Ethan Netherton, Ralls Pennington, Head Coach Jan Weisberg, Assistant Coach Drew Briese (photo by Cari Dean)

DEMOREST, Ga.—With the game-winning run scoring on a wild pitch in the top of the 11th inning, No. 12 Birmingham-Southern fell to top-seeded and 13th-ranked Shenandoah, 5-4, Friday afternoon to be eliminated from the NCAA South Regional, hosted by Piedmont College in Demorest, Ga.

The third-seeded Panthers end their season at 35-12, while Shenandoah moves to 33-9 and remains in the winner's side of the bracket to play later this evening.

The Hornets struck first in the top of the second when Dan Powers led off with a double down the left field line. After the next two batters were out, Daniel Freshley singled through the left side to put Powers on third. Freshley stole second before Lew Johnson singled up the middle to plate both runners and put Shenandoah up 2-0.

BSC answered immediately in the bottom of the second, with freshman Zach Wingate leading off with a walk and then going to second on a wild pitch. An error by the Hornets' shortstop then put junior David Bourbonnais on first and Wingate on third before a single through the right side from senior Jeremy Hatley scored Wingate to cut it to 2-1. A sacrifice bunt by junior Wes Kent put runners on second and third and, with two outs on the board, senior Ethan Netherton singled to right field to plate Hatley and Bourbonnais and put the Panthers up 3-2 before he was picked off at first to end the inning.

The Panthers increased their lead to 4-2 in the bottom of the third. Sophomore Matt Brown led off with a single and stole second before a ground-out by senior Evan Grovenstein advanced Brown to third. Junior Jacob Mayfield then hit a fly ball to center field, allowing Brown to score for the sac-fly.

The tie stood until the top of the sixth when, with one out, Powers and J.J. McDaniel walked, prompting a pitching change by BSC to bring in freshman Ryan Gaines to replace senior starter Ralls Pennington. The next batter flew out to center field, but Freshley then doubled to left field to plate both runners and tie things up 4-4.

Shenandoah had a chance to break the tie in the top of the eighth, putting runners on first and second with one out before BSC brought in junior closer Bourbonnais for Gaines. A double steal put runners on second and third, and a walk loaded the bases after the second out, but BSC got out of the jam with a ground-out to second to end the inning with three Hornets stranded.

Neither team would score again until Shenandoah brought across the game-winner in the top of the 11th and held BSC scoreless in the bottom half to stay alive in post-season play and end the season for BSC.

Bourbonnais (5-2) took the loss, his second in a row after picking up yesterday's 12th-inning loss to Bridgewater. He threw three and 2/3 innings, allowing no hits and one run with five walks and five strikeouts. Pennington, the starter, went five and 1/3 and gave up five hits and four runs with four walks and three strikeouts, and Gaines gave up four hits with no runs and no walks and one strikeout in his two innings of work.

Vince Claudio (8-1) was impressive on the mound for the Hornets, going the complete 11-inning game while allowing four hits and two earned runs with four walks and 10 strikeouts.

Brown was 2-5 at the plate for BSC to lead the four-hit team effort; Shenandoah picked up nine hits, led by Powers and Freshley who were both 2-5 as well.

The Panthers wrap up an outstanding season in which they won both the Southern Athletic Association regular season and tournament championships. Head Coach Jan Weisberg was named SAA Coach of the Year and junior Blake Stevens was SAA Pitcher of the Year.