ROME, Ga.—An impressive start from junior Blake Stevens and a game-high four hits and two runs from junior Jacob Mayfield guided the No. 15 Birmingham-Southern baseball team to 6-1 win over Berry College in game one of the Southern Athletic Association doubleheader Saturday afternoon at William R. Bowdoin Field in Mount Berry, Ga. The Panthers fell in game two, 5-4, in seven innings.
The Panthers moved to 19-4 on the season and a 9-2 conference mark. Berry is now 16-6 with a 6-2 record in the SAA. The squads will return to action tomorrow to square off at 1 p.m. ET in the rubber match of the series.
BSC claimed an early lead with a run in the opening half of the first inning of game one. Lead-off batter sophomore Matt Brown singled to the right side to open the game and found himself in scoring position a batter later when senior Evan Grovenstein's grounder moved him to second. After a balk that put Brown on third, Mayfield put another single through the right side to score Brown.
Berry would tie the tilt in the third when the Vikings took advantage of one of the two Panther errors in the game, one of the two walks issued by Stevens in his seven innings of work, and one of the five hits given up by Stevens. The unearned run in the third would be the only run of the game for the host Vikings as Stevens improved to 5-0 on the season with the performance.
The Panthers would put the game out of reach late, scoring runs in the sixth, seventh, and eighth innings. In the sixth, with two outs and the bases loaded after the first three batters reached base safely, a walk to sophomore Taylor McCracken extended the Panther lead to 2-1. Again with two outs on the board, BSC posted a run in the seventh when senior Jeremy Hatley doubled down the right field line to score Mayfield. With the lead at 3-1, BSC used three hits and a Berry error to hang three more runs on the Vikings to extend the lead to 6-1.
Junior Jake Campbell ignited the inning with a lead-off single to left. A single from McCracken to the shortstop, aided by a Berry throwing error, put the Panthers at second and third with junior Brandon Marino at the plate. Marino's single to center plated Campbell for the first run of the inning. A fielder's choice for Brown then brought home McCracken. After Mayfield was intentionally walked, and with the bases loaded, Marino scored off a sac fly from junior David Bourbonnais to bring the game to its final 6-1 score.
Bourbonnais and sophomore Wilson Jamison came on in relief of Stevens to close the door on Berry. The pair struck out three and gave up no walks while only allowing three hits.
In game two, BSC again claimed an early advantage by scoring three runs in the second inning. Hatley started the inning with a single to right and was advanced to third after he was followed with a double from freshman Zach Wingate. Hatley and Wingate then came home courtesy of a throwing error after a grounder from junior Zach Wagner. With two outs, a Grovenstein single brought home Wagner for the inning's final run.
The 3-0 lead was erased in the Berry half of the fourth when the home team scored all five of their runs. Senior Ralls Pennington (3-2) took the loss and was credited with all five of the Viking runs.
With one out in the sixth and Wingate at third, the Panthers cut the deficit to 5-4 when a McCracken single scored Wingate. An inning-ending double play spoiled the Panther comeback bid and left the score at the final result of 5-4.
Senior Ralls Pennington (3-2) took the loss after starting and throwing 3.1 innings, giving up four hits, five earned runs, and five walks. Freshman Ryan Gaines came in in relief in the fourth, and allowed three hits with one strikeout.