No. 11 Panthers roll past Centre in SAA rubber match, 11-1

2014 BSC Baseball Seniors. L to R: Assistant Coach J.D. Hulse, Assistant Coach Nathan Bland, Miles Nordgren, Jake Campbell, Kevin Shelton, Evan Grovenstein, Jeremy Hatley, Ethan Netherton, Ralls Pennington, Head Coach Jan Weisberg, Assistant Coach Drew Briese (photo by Cari Dean)

BIRMINGHAM, Ala.—With an 11-1 seven-inning victory Sunday afternoon at Striplin Field, No. 11 Birmingham-Southern took the rubber match in the Southern Athletic Association series against Centre College.

The Panthers move to 27-9 overall and 15-3 in the SAA, solidifying their place at the top of the standings; the Colonels fall to 12-19 overall and 6-10 in league play. Next weekend's final series of the season against No. 20 Rhodes in Memphis will determine the final SAA standings. BSC currently leads at 15-3, followed by Rhodes and Berry with marks of 12-6.

Today was Senior Day, with BSC honoring its seven seniors in pregame festivities: Jake Campbell, Evan Grovenstein, Jeremy Hatley, Ethan Netherton, Miles Nordgren, Ralls Pennington, and Kevin Shelton.

BSC led 4-0 after the first two innings of today's game, scoring once in the first inning and three times in the second. In the first, sophomore Matt Brown led off with a double down the left field line, then went to third on a wild pitch before scoring on an RBI single to center field from Grovenstein.

In the second inning the first three BSC batters reached base safely before Netherton recorded an RBI after being hit by a pitch, bringing freshman Zach Wingate home. Wingate led off the inning by reaching on a Centre fielding error. After the first out of the inning, a strikeout, Brown reached on a fielder's choice which scored Campbell, who reached on a single to left field. On the next play, junior Wes Kent, who got on base with a bunt single, came home on a wild pitch to wrap up the inning's scoring.

Centre got on the board with their only run of the day in the top of the third when Zach Montgomery stole home, and the 4-1 lead stood until the bottom of the fifth when the Panthers scored four more. With runners on the corners and two outs on the board, Wingate doubled to right-center to clear the bases, allowing junior Jacob Mayfield and Grovenstein, who both reached on singles, to score. After senior Jake Campbell walked to put runners on first and third, Kent singled up the middle to plate Wingate, and Netherton singled to left field allowing Campbell to score, expanding the BSC lead to 8-1.

The Panthers kept up their scoring assault in the sixth. Shelton led off with a double to left, followed by a Brown ground-out to put Shelton on third. Grovenstein walked, and then Shelton was able to score on a failed pick-off, putting BSC up 9-1.

Nordgren, normally a pitcher, ended the game early in the bottom of the seventh with his first at-bat of the season, pinch hitting and recording a walk-off two-RBI single to left field, allowing Kent and sophomore Taylor McCracken to score and put the Panthers up 11-1.

BSC recorded 12 hits, led by Kent who was 3-4 at the plate and Grovenstein who was 2-3. Senior Ralls Pennington (5-3) started on the mound and threw 5.2 innings, giving up seven hits and one earned run with two strikeouts and no walks. Freshman Wilson Jamison came in for the final 1.1 inning.

The Panthers will take a break from SAA play this Tuesday, traveling to Lookout Mountain, Ga., to face Covenant College at 4 p.m. before traveling to Memphis next weekend to take on No. 20 Rhodes. The teams will play a 1 p.m. doubleheader on Friday, April 18, and a 1 p.m. single game on Saturday, April 19, to determine the SAA regular season champion.

The top two seeds will each host a portion of the opening round of the SAA Championship, April 24-27, hosting a four-team double-elimination tournament. The two winners of those tournaments will then face off in a three-game title series at the home of the higher seed.