MEMPHIS, Tenn.—With two wins against No. 27 Rhodes College today, No. 15 Birmingham-Southern clinched the 2014 Southern Athletic Association regular season baseball title at Stauffer Field in Memphis, Tenn.
The Panthers move to 30-9 overall and 17-3 in the SAA with their fifth straight win, while the Lynx fall to 26-12 overall and 12-8 in league play. BSC will host part of the first round of the 2014 SAA Championship next weekend as the top seed, with games beginning on Friday in a four-team double-elimination format. The Panthers hosted last year as well, but as the second seed, as the top two seeds host with the winners of each round advancing to the best-of-three title series at the site of the higher seed.
In game one, the Panthers fell behind 2-0 after the first inning, with one Rhodes run scored on a BSC error. BSC quickly cut it to 2-1 in the top of the second on an RBI single from senior Jeremy Hatley, bringing junior Wes Kent home. BSC tied it up in the top of the fourth when Kent crossed the plate once again, this time on a sacrifice fly-out by senior Jake Campbell. Junior Jacob Mayfield recorded the go-ahead RBI with a single to right field in the top of the fifth to plate sophomore Matt Brown, who reached on a Lynx error.
With one out in the bottom of the sixth, Rhodes had the tying and go-ahead run on base before starter Blake Stevens retired the next two batters to preserve the lead.
Mayfield recorded another RBI single in the top of the seventh, allowing senior Evan Grovenstein, who doubled to get on base, to score and put BSC up 4-2. A Brown RBI single in the top of the ninth wrapped up the scoring, bringing sophomore Taylor McCracken across the plate to push the lead to 5-2.
Stevens (7-2) threw seven innings, allowing six hits and two earned runs with only one walk and four strikeouts. Junior David Bourbonnais came in for the final two innings, picking up his fifth save of the season. He gave up one hit with three strikeouts.
The Panthers fell behind 2-0 again in the nightcap, with Rhodes scoring single runs in the first and second innings, but the answering runs from BSC did not come until the top of the seventh and final inning. Junior Casey Lambert, pinch hitting for junior Brandon Marino, led off with a single to left, followed by a Brown single to right allowing Lambert to advance to third. After a Lynx pitching change, Grovenstein put down an infield single bunt to plate Lambert, and he and Brown then went to second and third on a wild pitch. After a strikeout for the first out of the inning, Bourbonnais reached first and Brown scored on a Rhodes error, tying it up 2-2. On the next at-bat, Kent bunt singled to first base and Grovenstein crossed the plate for the go-ahead run and final run of the game.
BSC held Rhodes scoreless in the bottom of the seventh, with senior Miles Nordgren retiring three straight batters to clinch the victory.
Nordgren (6-2) threw the complete seven-inning game and scattered six hits with two earned runs and only one walk as well as eight strikeouts.
The series will conclude tomorrow at 1 p.m.