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No. 16 Panthers win in opening round of SAA Championship

Ralls Pennington (photo by Cari Dean)

BIRMINGHAM, Ala.—In its first game of the 2014 Southern Athletic Association Championship, the No. 16 Birmingham-Southern baseball team relied on a proven formula to pick up the 4-1 victory over Sewanee: strong starting pitching, timely hitting, and solid play late to put the game away.

The top-seeded Panthers move to 31-10 on the season after the victory in game two of the Birmingham-Southern opening round at Striplin Field. Sewanee is now 12-24 on the season.

Senior Ralls Pennington (6-4) took care of the strong starting pitching portion of the formula with a complete-game performance in which he struck out eight batters against a single walk. After allowing the only Sewanee run of the game in the top of the second, Pennington would settle in and give up only one more hit the rest of the way.

With Pennington solidly in control on the mound, the Panther offense immediately answered in the bottom of the second with a run of their own to tie the game at one apiece. Reigning SAA Player of the Week junior David Bourbonnais was brought home by a RBI single from sophomore Matt Brown, one of his game-high three hits. BSC extended the lead in the fourth with another Bourbonnais run. However, this time the junior crossed the plate courtesy of a double down the left field line from junior Jake Campbell for the 2-1 advantage.

The Panthers wrapped up their scoring efforts in the bottom of the fifth with a rally that started with a walk to junior Wes Kent on four pitches. Kent then advanced to second after a wild pitch and scored off a single to left from freshman Zach Wingate. After another wild pitch that moved Wingate to second and a Bourbonnais ground out that moved the freshman to third, Wingate was plated by another Campbell RBI, the second of his game-high two RBI.

The 4-1 advantage held as the Panthers locked down defensively behind Pennington. In the final four at bats for Sewanee after BSC scored their final runs of the game, Sewanee was held to a mere two baserunners and were retired in order in the eighth and ninth innings.

The win over the eight seed Sewanee Tigers pits BSC against Hendrix Saturday morning at 11:30 a.m. Sewanee is headed for an elimination game against Millsaps at 3 p.m. after the Majors fell to Hendrix in game one today, 2-1.