MILLINGTON, Tenn.—The No. 9 Birmingham-Southern baseball team defeated No. 8 Trinity University today, 5-3, to advance to the title game of the 2012 SCAC Championship, tomorrow at noon at USA Stadium in Millington, Tenn.
The win moves BSC, the top East Division seed, to 34-7, while the Tigers, the top seed in the West, fall to 34-9.
The Panthers jumped out to an early lead with three runs in the top of the first using a combination of small ball and the long ball. Junior Stephen Denton opened the game by drawing a walk and advancing to second courtesy of a sacrifice bunt from sophomore Evan Grovenstein. The SCAC Player-of-the-Year, junior Bruce Maxwell, then stepped up to the plate and put a double into right field that scored Denton. The clean-up hitter, senior Jon Walker, did just that with a homerun to left field accounting for two of his game-high three RBI.
Trinity would cut into the BSC lead in the bottom of the first with a single run when Christian Muscarello's single plated Dominick Robusto.
After the first, both starting pitchers would find their stuff and not allow any more runs until the bottom of the fifth when two consecutive doubles chased BSC starter freshman Paul Caudill after four innings of work and giving up three earned runs. The two runs scored by Trinity in the fifth would be its last of the game as the Panther relief team of sophomore Ralls Pennington and junior Blake Yance only gave up a meager two hits the rest of the game. Pennington would earn the victory and move his record to 3-0 on the season. Yance's two innings of hitless relief earned him his sixth save of the year.
BSC would pull ahead for good in the top of the sixth when a Trinity error allowed sophomore Austin Justice to score. In the ninth the Panthers would add an insurance run to produce their fifth, and final, run of the game. With two outs, Maxwell hit the third of his game-high three hits with a single up the middle to center field. Then, just like in the first inning, Walker brought home Maxwell with a double down the left field line to bring the game to what would be the final score of 5-3.
The Panthers will play at noon tomorrow, needing only one win to bring home the conference crown and an automatic berth to the NCAA tournament.