No. 7 Panthers advance to NCAA Central championship game with 9-7 win against Illinois Wesleyan

Jon Walker
Jon Walker

MILLINGTON, Tenn.—The No. 7 Birmingham-Southern baseball team defeated Illinois Wesleyan this evening, 9-7, to advance to tomorrow's championship round against Webster University, who defeated BSC earlier today by the score of 6-1.

The Panthers move to 38-8 on the year while staving off elimination; IWU ends its season at 31-17. BSC will face off against Webster tomorrow at noon, and must win twice to win the regional title.

An RBI single by sophomore Austin Justice in the top of the first put BSC on the board at 1-0. In the top of the second, a bases-loaded hit-by-pitch put the Panthers up 2-0, and a run scored on a balk increased the margin to 3-0.

Freshman David Bourbonnais recorded an RBI single in the top of the third to put the Panthers up 4-0, but the Titans tied it up in the bottom of the third on a two-RBI double, another RBI double, and a sacrifice fly-out.

BSC took back the lead quickly in the top of the fourth as senior Jon Walker hit an inside-the-park grand slam to put the Panthers up 8-4. A sac-fly from freshman Zach Wagner increased the lead to 9-4.

Illinois Wesleyan scored a single run in the bottom of the fourth, and two in the bottom of the seventh to threaten the Panthers' lead, cutting it to 9-7. In the bottom of the eighth the Titans got the game-tying run on base but junior right-hander Blake Yance got the Panthers out of the jam and BSC held IWU scoreless in the bottom of the ninth for the win.

Yance got the save, his fifth of the year, after throwing 2.2 innings and giving up only one hit with three strikeouts. Sophomore Miles Nordgren got the win after coming in in relief and pitching three innings, allowing two hits and one earned run with one strikeout. Sophomore Ralls Pennington started on the mound, and Bourbonnais also saw action.

BSC out-hit the Titans 15-7, led by Justice who was 4-5. Bourbonnais was 2-3, Walker was 2-4, and junior Stephen Denton and sophomore Evan Grovenstein were both 2-5. Walker led with his four RBI off the grand slam.