No. 7 Panthers fall to Webster in NCAA Central Region championship, 3-2

No. 7 Panthers fall to Webster in NCAA Central Region championship, 3-2

MILLINGTON, Tenn.—The No. 7 Birmingham-Southern baseball team suffered a 3-2 loss against Webster, Saturday afternoon in the championship game of the NCAA Central Regional.

The Panthers end the season at 38-9, while Webster moves to 28-10 and will move on to the NCAA Championship in Appleton, Wis., beginning Friday, May 25.

Senior Jon Walker, junior Stephen Denton, sophomore Austin Justice, and freshman Blake Stevens were all named to the NCAA Central Regional All-Tournament Team.

The first five-and-a-half innings were scoreless, but with plenty of chances for both teams to score. The Gorloks left two on base in the bottom of the second and fifth innings, as did the Panthers in the top of the fourth.

Webster scored a single run in the bottom of the sixth, and added two more in the bottom of the eighth. The Panther defense came through to end the bottom of the eighth on a double play with the bases loaded, and the BSC offense began to rally in the top of the ninth.

Junior Bruce Maxwell led off the ninth with a walk, followed by a single through the left side by senior Walker. A single to left field by Justice loaded the bases, and sophomore Ethan Netherton reached on a fielder's choice after that but Maxwell was thrown out at home. After a strikeout to put two away, sophomore pinch hitter Kevin Shelton reached on a Webster error and both Walker and Justice scored to cut the lead to 3-2. With the game-tying run on the second and go-ahead run on first, a swinging strikeout ended the game and the Gorloks won 3-2.

BSC recorded eight hits to Webster's 12. Walker, Justice, and freshman Trey Chambers were all 2-4.

Stevens started on the mound and took the loss, falling to 7-3 on the year after striking out six batters while giving up eight hits and one earned run in six innings of work. Sophomore Miles Nordgren came in for an inning and allowed three hits and two earned runs. Junior Blake Yance closed the game, throwing the final inning and allowing one hit.

The Panthers had a banner season, winning the SCAC Championship in their first year of eligibility. After dropping the first three games of the year, BSC went 29-3 over the next 32 games including a 13-game win streak.

BSC out-scored its opponents 330-166 this season and out-hit them 480-366. The Panthers also had 81 doubles, 17 triples and 30 home runs, as well as 282 RBI.

The Panther pitching staff had a 3.00 combined ERA with 331 strikeouts, while allowing their opponents to hit .244.