Bears nip No. 11 Panthers, 8-7

Matt Brown (photo by Cari Dean)
Matt Brown (photo by Cari Dean)

ST. LOUIS, Mo.—A ninth-inning comeback attempt by the No. 11 Birmingham-Southern baseball team fell short Thursday afternoon as the Panthers dropped an 8-7 decision to Washington University at Kelly Field in St. Louis, Mo.

The Panthers drop to 25-8, while the Bears improve to 13-14. The loss is the fourth in the last six non-conference road games for BSC.

Both teams were held scoreless in the first inning despite notching two hits apiece. The host Bears lit up the scoreboard the second with a pair of runs, and BSC wasted no time responding with a pair of their own runs in the top half of the third. Four consecutive singles, the first two from senior Evan Grovenstein and junior Jacob Mayfield, started the rally. The two base hits, combined with a WashU error, quickly put runners in scoring position on second and third base. The final two singles, from senior Jeremy Hatley and freshman Zach Wingate, plated Grovenstein and Mayfield.

Unfortunately for the Panthers in the back-and-forth affair that was the opening innings, the Bears responded with five more runs in the home half of the third to push the lead out to 7-2.

The BSC effort to chip away at the lead began with a run brought home in the fourth when sophomore Matt Brown scored on a fielder's choice off the bat of senior Ethan Netherton. The Panthers tacked on two more runs in the fifth to close the deficit to 7-5. A Netherton single to left scored junior Wes Kent and Wingate.

After a scoreless sixth, the Panthers cut the lead to one when a Brown single brought sophomore Taylor McCracken home. The BSC comeback bid suffered a slight setback when WashU responded with a run of its own in the bottom of the seventh to run the score to 8-6.
The two-run difference remained when the Panthers came to the plate in the ninth. BSC jump started the inning with singles from Brown and Grovenstein. With Brown on third the Panthers cut the lead to one after a sac-fly from Mayfield plated Brown. The 8-7 score would end up as the final tally as the last two batters struck out to end the game.

BSC reliever junior Paul Caudill (1-1) took the loss for the Panthers.

The Panthers return home for a Southern Athletic Association series this weekend, defending their spot atop the league standings by hosting Centre College in a 1 p.m. doubleheader on Saturday and a 1 p.m. single game on Sunday at Striplin Field.