No. 18 Panthers hold off No. 23 Adrian, 6-5

David Bourbonnais (photo by Cari Dean)
David Bourbonnais (photo by Cari Dean)

BIRMINGHAM, Ala.—With the game-winning run on second in the top of the ninth, the 18th-ranked Birmingham-Southern baseball team struck out the final batter of the game to hold on for a 6-5 win against No. 23 Adrian College Friday evening at Striplin Field.

The Panthers moved to 3-0, while the Bulldogs fell to 0-1 in their season opener.

The game was a pitchers' duel between BSC senior starter Blake Stevens and Adrian starter Eric Schmidt until the bottom of the fifth, when the Panthers scored the first runs of the game. Sophomore Sam Roberts led off with a single, followed by senior David Bourbonnais with a double. Sophomore Jack Rhodes then singled to center field, and advanced to second on the throw, bringing both runners home. After Rhodes advanced to third on a wild pitch, senior Brandon Marino reached on a fielder's choice that allowed Rhodes to score, putting BSC up 3-0.

Adrian got on the board in the top of the sixth on a sacrifice fly-out by Jack Gertley, and the 3-1 BSC lead held until the top of the eighth, when the Bulldogs led off with a double, a single, and an RBI double from Ryan Dobrow to cut it to 3-2. After a pitching change by the Panthers, putting Bourbonnais on the mound, Adrian scored the game-tying run on a sac-fly by Drew Shutes.

In the bottom of the eighth, BSC's first two batters, junior Taylor McCracken and senior Jacob Mayfield, were hit by pitches to reach base, and pinch-hitting sophomore Zach Rhodes put down a textbook sac bunt to advance both runners. After a pitching change by the Bulldogs, Roberts hit an infield ground-out to bring McCracken across the plate to put the Panthers ahead once again. Bourbonnais was hit by pitch next, and Mayfield then scored on a wild pitch to increase the BSC lead to 5-3. After Jack Rhodes walked, Marino was hit by pitch to load the bases, and sophomore David Scott put down a bunt single to third allowing Bourbonnais to score for a 6-3 Panther lead.

With two outs on the board in the top of the ninth, the Bulldogs rallied, as Gertley doubled down the right-field line to score Ian Mikowski. The Panthers intentionally walked Dorow, loading the bases, and then Adrian scored on a Shutes walk, cutting it to 6-5 with the bases loaded and two outs. Bourbonnais ended the game by striking out the final batter to preserve the BSC victory.

Roberts led BSC at the plate with two of its seven hits, going 2-4, while Jack Rhodes had two of the five RBI. Stevens threw six innings with six strikeouts, giving up two hits and one earned run. Junior Kyle Royalty threw one inning before Bourbonnais came in for the final two innings, picking up the win to move to 1-0. He gave up three hits and two earned runs with four strikeouts.

Schmidt took the loss for Adrian, allowing six hits and five earned runs with four strikeouts in 7.1 innings of work.

Both teams are back in action tomorrow at Striplin Field. BSC faces Transylvania at 10:45 a.m., followed by Adrian versus Transy 30 minutes after the conclusion of the first game. The Panthers will then take on Adrian again following that game, at approximately 4:30 p.m.