MILLINGTON, Tenn.—With an impressive 21-4 win against Millsaps today, the No. 9 Birmingham-Southern baseball team won the 2012 SCAC title in its first year of post-season eligibility at the NCAA Division III level.
The Panthers move to 35-7 and will receive the SCAC's automatic bid to the NCAA post-season. NCAA regional play will begin on May 16.
BSC won four straight games in four days to clinch the title, and has now won six straight games.
In game one on Thursday, the Panthers defeated Dallas, 6-4. SCAC Freshman-of-the-Year Blake Stevens got the win, going seven innings while surrendering only two earned runs while striking out four. Junior Blake Yance, also named All-SCAC, got the save, striking out two in the ninth inning. The Panthers were led at the plate by freshman Zach Wagner, who was 3-4 on the day.
Game two on Friday was an SCAC Eastern Division rematch as BSC beat Rhodes 8-4. Senior Jesse Meier got the start and went 4.1 innings before turning it over to the BSC bullpen. Sophomore Miles Nordgren and freshman David Bourbonnais closed out the remaining 4.2 innings, allowing only three hits and one earned run. Nordgren was credited with the win and Bourbonnais with the save. Sophomore Austin Justice provided two doubles and two RBI for BSC at the plate.
Game three on Saturday was a matchup of teams ranked in the top 10 as BSC defeated No. 8 Trinity University, 5-3. Senior Jon Walker provided the big blow with a three-run homer in the first inning. Freshman Paul Caudill got the start on the mound and was relieved by sophomore Ralls Pennington and Yance. Pennington earned the win while Yance locked down his second save of the tournament. The win put BSC directly into the championship round.
The SCAC championship game on Sunday started on a rocky note as the Millsaps Majors got on the board in the top of the first on a double off BSC senior starter Jesse Meier. However, the Panthers would not stay down for long, as they answered with eight runs in the first, one in the second, two in the third, one in the fourth, and nine in the fifth to establish a commanding 21-3 lead. The offensive onslaught featured three homeruns in the fifth inning alone, including two off the bat of BSC leftfielder Austin Justice and a grandslam from junior catcher Bruce Maxwell. Justice finished the day 4-5 with four RBIs, two homeruns, and a triple.
For the week, BSC's 3-4-5-6 hitters (Maxwell, Walker, Justice and Wagner) were 32-64 (.500) with 23 RBI, four homeruns, seven doubles, and two triples. The pitching staff was led by its bullpen. Nordgren picked up two wins and allowed no earned runs over 5.2 innings of work. Yance earned two saves in 3.2 innings of work, striking out four batters along the way. Pennington provided 4.0 innings of scoreless baseball over two games worth of work.