No. 10 Baseball takes two from Centre

Ryan Gaines (photo by Cari Dean)
Ryan Gaines (photo by Cari Dean)

BIRMINGHAM, Ala.—A pair of complete-game gems from senior Blake Stevens and sophomore Ryan Gaines kept the Birmingham-Southern baseball team at the top of the Southern Athletic Association standings Saturday afternoon at Striplin Field as the 10th-ranked Birmingham-Southern baseball team defeated Centre College 2-1, 2-0.

BSC, playing as the visiting team due to the games being moved from Danville, Ky., because of inclement weather, improves to 10-0 on the 2015 campaign and 5-0 in SAA play. Centre is now 0-5 for the season and in the conference.

Opportunities to put runners in scoring position were rare in game one of the series as both Stevens (3-0) and Centre starter Rob Caudill combined for 15 strikeouts on the afternoon. Stevens rung up eight batters and Caudill struck out seven in his seven innings of work. BSC only managed to put a runner on second or better four times in the game, capitalizing in the third when a single from sophomore Zach Wingate scored juniors Taylor McCracken and Matt Brown for a 2-0 lead.

Centre put a runner on second twice with one of those times being a home run from Trevor Brewer in the fifth to account for their lone run of the game and move the score to 2-1. The 2-1 score would remain as Centre was held hitless the rest of the way.

Stevens' performance on the mound was accompanied by Wingate at the plate with his game-high two RBI and team-high two hits, an honor he shared with sophomores Jack Rhodes and Sam Roberts.

Pitching duels dominated the day once again in game two as BSC starter Gaines (3-0) went toe-to-toe with Centre starter Brewer.

Gaines, a versatile athlete who was recently named SAA Male Diver of the Year while helping BSC win the 2015 Swimming and Diving Championship, surrendered only three hits in his seven innings on the mound and retired 18 of the first 20 batters he faced over the opening six innings. Centre did not get into scoring position until a lead-off double to start the seventh and final inning of the second game of the doubleheader gave them a scoring opportunity. Gaines then proceeded to retire the side in order to end the game and preserve the shutout.

Offensively, single runs in the second and seventh innings provided the run support to earn the win. A single to left in the second from senior David Bourbonnais scored Roberts to put BSC on the board with an early 1-0 lead. In the seventh, consecutive singles from Brown and McCracken allowed a fielder's choice one batter later with senior Jacob Mayfield at the dish to score Brown for the 2-0 lead and eventual final score.

Mayfield led the Panther offensive effort in game two with two hits.

BSC welcomes Centre back to Striplin Field Sunday afternoon at noon to finish the SAA series.