BIRMINGHAM, Ala.—Scoring eight runs in the bottom of the seventh inning, including the walk-off RBI single by junior Taylor McCracken, the fourth-ranked Birmingham-Southern baseball team defeated Centre, 10-0, Friday afternoon in the opening round of the 2015 Southern Athletic Association Championship at Striplin Field.
The top-seeded Panthers moved to 31-7-1, while the eighth-seeded Colonels fell to 7-27. In the first game of the day, fifth seed Berry upended fourth seed Oglethorpe, 10-3. BSC and Berry will face off tomorrow at 11:30 a.m., followed by an elimination game between Oglethorpe and Centre at 3 p.m. The loser of the 11 a.m. game will then face the winner of the 3 p.m. game at 6:30 p.m.
The Panther offense was slow to start today, scoring once in the bottom of the fifth on an RBI single by senior Brandon Marino, and once in the sixth on an RBI ground-out by sophomore Jack Rhodes. BSC then exploded for eight in the seventh, capitalizing on two Centre errors and picking up seven hits to end the game early on a McCracken RBI single to push the score to 10-0.
Sophomore Zach Wingate led the Panthers at the plate, going 3-4, and senior Jacob Mayfield was 2-2 and senior David Bourbonnais was 2-3. Rhodes and junior Matt Brown led the team with two RBIs apiece.
Sophomore Ryan Gaines (7-3) threw the complete-game shutout, giving up three hits and no walks with three strikeouts.
The other half of the championship began in Jackson, Miss., today, hosted by No. 17 Millsaps. In the first game today, third-seeded and 18th-ranked Rhodes defeated sixth-seed Hendrix 13-2 in seven innings, and second-seeded Millsaps defeated seventh-seeded Sewanee, 14-0, also in seven innings. Millsaps and Rhodes will face off tomorrow at noon, followed by Hendrix vs. Sewanee at 3:30 p.m.