No. 10 Panthers sweep Centre with 11-1 Sunday victory

Sam Roberts (photo by Cari Dean)
Sam Roberts (photo by Cari Dean)

BIRMINGHAM, Ala.—A balanced effort carried the 10th-ranked Birmingham-Southern baseball team to a second-straight Southern Athletic Association series sweep Sunday afternoon at Striplin Field, as the Panthers defeated Centre College 11-1.

BSC improves to 11-0 for the season, its best start since the transition to Division III, and 6-0 in conference play. Centre drops to 0-6 on the season and in the league standings.

The series, which was originally slated to be played in Danville, Ky., saw BSC play as the visitors after snow and field conditions prompted the series to be moved to the Hilltop. A shift to hitting in the top of innings and pitching in the bottom did not seem to faze the Panthers, as they combined for 29 hits and 15 runs on the weekend while only surrendering two runs and 10 hits in the series.

A scoreless first inning for the Panthers gave way to four straight innings in which BSC scored at least one run to put the game out of reach before Centre recorded a hit.

Sophomore Sam Roberts led off the second with a double to left and quickly scored after a single from sophomore Jack Rhodes moved him to third and another single, this time from senior David Bourbonnais, brought him home. A double steal moved Rhodes to third and into an ideal position to score off a sacrifice fly to center from freshman Ross Anderson.

Holding a two-run lead, a pair of Panthers picked up their second RBI in as many innings to open the third inning. A Bourbonnais single scored sophomore Zach Wingate and then, with the bases loaded, a single to center from Anderson scored Rhodes. After a Centre pitching change, a fielder's choice plated Bourbonnais and a single from junior Taylor McCracken scored senior Wes Kent to wrap up the inning's scoring and claim a 6-0 lead in favor of BSC.

The Panthers tacked on another run in the fourth to extend the lead to 7-0 with a sacrifice fly from Kent that scored Wingate. A combination of Panther hits, patience at the plate, and Centre errors drove the BSC offensive effort in the fifth. A Centre error scored senior Casey Lambert, who reached base after a lead-off single, and moved McCracken to third after he reached base safely with a walk. McCracken would cross the plate a batter later courtesy of a sac-fly from junior Miller Bonds, his first RBI of the season. Another sac-fly, this time from Rhodes, closed the inning's scoring as freshman Wallace Schmuck made the score 10-0.

An unearned run in the Centre half of the fifth off sophomore Stephen Himic (1-0) was the only blemish on an otherwise stellar pitching performance from the Panthers. A committee of six Panther pitchers saw action on the afternoon with none of them allowing more than two hits and three of them allowing none.

A double to right-center from senior Brandon Marino scored freshman Luke Anderson to take the score to the ultimate final of 11-1.

Multiple Panthers tied for game highs on the offensive end with Wingate, Rhodes, Roberts, and Bourbonnais each notching two hits. Bourbonnais and Anderson tallied a pair of RBI each.

BSC hits the road for a midweek, non-conference tilt at LaGrange this Tuesday, March 10 at 7 p.m. ET. The Panthers then return home next weekend, hosting Covenant on Friday at 2 p.m. and then Covenant and Webster on Saturday at 12:30 p.m. and 4 p.m.