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No. 4 BSC beats Berry twice to advance to SAA title series

Jacob Mayfield (photo by Cari Dean)
Jacob Mayfield (photo by Cari Dean)

BIRMINGHAM, Ala.—After falling into the elimination bracket yesterday with a loss to Berry, the No. 4 Birmingham-Southern baseball team rallied today with two wins over the Vikings, including a 10-9 10-inning win, to advance to the Southern Athletic Association Championship title series next weekend against No. 18 Rhodes.

The Panthers, who won the regular season and played as the top seed, moved to 34-8-1, while the fifth-seeded Vikings fell to 23-18-1. Third-seeded Rhodes (30-11) defeated Hendrix and then second seed No. 17 Millsaps twice in Jackson, Miss., to advance to the title series.

BSC and Rhodes will play for the SAA Championship at Striplin Field next Saturday, May 2, at 2 p.m., and Sunday, May 3, at noon, with game three, if necessary, immediately following game two.

After Berry defeated BSC yesterday, the Panthers defeated Oglethorpe 11-3 yesterday evening and then needed to come back today with two straight wins against the Vikings. Berry came out swinging in game one, scoring early and often to take a 5-0 lead after three-and-a-half innings. With two outs on the board in the bottom of the fourth, BSC had only recorded two hits, but the bats came alive after that with an RBI single from Sam Roberts followed by a two-run homer from senior David Bourbonnais to cut the Berry lead to 5-3.

In the bottom of the fifth, an RBI single by senior Jacob Mayfield cut it to 5-4, and then another Roberts RBI single tied things up. The Panthers took the lead in the sixth, their first lead over the Vikings in the Championship, on an RBI single from junior Matt Brown. A Mayfield two-RBI single after that pushed the lead out to 8-5.

The Vikings came back strong in the top of the seventh, scored four runs to take back the lead at 9-5, but BSC responded in the bottom of the eighth with yet another Mayfield RBI to tie it up 9-9. Neither team was able to score in the ninth, sending the game to extra innings. Berry got runners to first and second in the top of the 10th, but Bourbonnais, who came in as a reliever in the seventh, struck out the final Viking batter to preserve the tie. In the bottom of the 10th, sophomore David Scott led off with a single, followed by a sacrifice bunt from freshman Brayden Housel to move Scott to second. Berry intentionally walked junior Taylor McCracken to put runners at first and second, and an RBI single by Brown plated Scott to win the game for BSC.

Bourbonnais (3-1) got the win after throwing the final 3.2 innings, giving up a hit and no earned runs with one strikeout. Senior Paul Cauldill was the starter, followed by juniors Miller Bonds and Wilson Jamison, and sophomore Ryan Gaines, who threw the seven-inning complete-game win against Centre on Friday.

Brown and Roberts were both 3-5 at the plate with two RBIs, Housel was 3-4, and Mayfield was 2-5 with a team-high three RBIs.

Berry led off game two with a run in the top of the first, but the Panther offense responded in the bottom of the first with two runs courtesy of a Mayfield RBI single and an RBI from sophomore Zach Wingate. A two-run Mayfield homer in the bottom of the third put the Panthers up 4-1, and four more runs in the fourth pushed the lead out to 8-1. Yet another Mayfield RBI single in the sixth put BSC up 9-1 before Berry scored again in the top of the seventh to cut it to 9-2.

After a Vikings pitching change, Roberts led off the seventh with his first home run of the season, and a McCracken two-RBI single made it 12-2. Berry took advantage of a Panther error in the top of the eighth to score another run, cutting it to 12-3, but BSC responded in the bottom half of the inning with a Scott sac-fly to push the lead back to 10. The Vikings tried to rally in the top of the ninth, getting five Vikings across the plate to cut it to 13-8, but senior Ben Hession struck out the final batter to preserve the win.

The Panthers recorded a season-high 18 hits, with McCracken, Mayfield, and Wingate all going 3-5. Mayfield and Wingate led with a game-high four RBIs apiece. Sophomore Mac Crawford (2-0) started and went six innings on the mound, giving up six hits and one earned run. Sophomores Wesley Walker and Easton Fuller came in in the seventh and eighth, and then Hession finished the game for BSC.