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February 22, 2014

Panthers move to 4-0 with 10-6 victory over Blackburn

BIRMINGHAM, Ala.—Behind a game-high three RBI from junior Wes Kent, the Birmingham-Southern baseball team won its opening game of the 2014 BSC Invitational, 10-6 over Blackburn College to move to 4-0 on the season Saturday afternoon at Striplin Field.

The Panthers fell into a 2-0 hole after the visiting Beavers used four walks and a single to claim the early advantage in the top of the first. Blackburn's lead would not last long as BSC would establish a trend that would become a recurring theme in the contest: responding quickly, sometimes disproportionately, to Blackburn runs.

Birmingham-Southern tacked on their own pair of runs in the bottom of the second to tie the game, the only time the Panthers would wait more than an inning to answer back to Beaver scores. Sophomore Matt Brown drew a walk with one out in the inning to jump start the BSC offense. A combination of a single from junior Zach Wagner to right-center and a Blackburn throwing error put the Panthers on the board when Brown crossed the plate. Freshman Mason Tritt singled home Wagner to conclude the inning's scoring.

A Beaver run in the top of the third was countered with four Panther scores in the bottom half of the inning. Two hit batsmen and a walk in the first four batters loaded the bases for BSC. Brown reached on a fielder's choice that scored sophomore Taylor McCracken. With runners at first and third, Kent picked up his first RBI of the game when a double down the left field line scored junior Jacob Mayfield. A third hit batter of the inning again loaded the bases and a pair of miscues from Blackburn pitchers brought home two more Panthers.

In the fourth, a Blackburn run was answered with three Panther runs in the home half of the inning. BSC loaded the bases after another hit batter and two walks. Junior Jake Campbell scored when Mayfield reached on a fielder's choice. Kent earned his final two RBI of the night after his single to left-center plated McCracken and senior Evan Grovenstein.

Birmingham-Southern brought a 9-4 lead into the fifth when the Beavers again opened the inning with a run. True to form, the Panthers responded with what would prove to be their final score of the game in the bottom of the fifth when Campbell came home.

Blackburn scored a final run in the ninth to bring the score to the game's final of 10-6.

Freshman Ryan Gaines (1-0) picked up the win after surrendering only two runs in 3 1/3 innings of relief. Junior Paul Caudill struck out a game-high three in his five innings of work.

BSC plays North Park at 11 a.m. and Piedmont at 5 p.m. on Sunday to close out the weekend.