No. 17 Pirates Complete PBC Sweep Of No. 3 USC Aiken On Sunday
SAVANNAH, Ga. - The No. 17-ranked Armstrong Atlantic State University baseball squad took a pair from visiting No. 3 USC Aiken on Easter Sunday, completing a three-game Peach Belt Conference series sweep of the first-place Pacers over the weekend. The Pirates withstood a late ninth-inning rally to take game one, 12-11, then rode the arm of sophomore Ethan Bader to a 7-3 win in game two.
With the wins, the Pirates improve to 27-9 overall and 13-8 in the Peach Belt, while USC Aiken suffers its first league sweep of the season and falls to 26-11 overall and 15-8 in the league.
Game one was an offensive explosion as the two teams combined for 23 runs and 37 hits in the eventual 12-11 victory by the Pirates. Armstrong seemingly broke open a 1-0 game in the bottom of the second with a five-run frame, keyed by freshman R.J. Dennard's bases-clearing triple to right, to eventually take a 7-1 lead into the sixth.
That's when the Pacers, the top-hitting team in the PBC, roared to life with a six-run sixth inning, sending 11 men to the plate and racking up seven hits in the inning. Tyler Bourdo's two-out, two-RBI single up the middle tied the game at 7-all.
The Pirates added a run in the bottom of the seventh and USC Aiken answered with a run in the top of the eighth, sending the game into the ninth with Armstrong holding a 12-8 lead.
The first four batters in the inning reached against Armstrong reliever Chess Malone, as pinch hitter Jowan Gray's first hit of the year - a two-run single inside the third base line - brought the Pacers to within a run, 12-11.
After a fielder's choice and a single by Stephen Carmon - his fifth hit of the game - put the tying run on second and the go-ahead run on first with just one out, Bader entered the game and struck out Josh Miller and Nick Aranas back-to-back to close out the victory, earning his first save of the season.
Malone (1-1) picked up the win in relief, hurling 2 2/3 innings of six-hit, four-run ball. USC Aiken reliever Thomas McLeod took the game one loss in relief, giving up eight hits and five runs - four earned - in four innings of work, walking two while striking out three.
Bader picked up where he left off in game one, starting game two and handcuffing the Pacers in a solid eight innings, giving up only three hits and two runs - one earned - while walking two and striking out seven to improve to 8-3 on the season.
Armstrong broke open a 2-1 game in the sixth inning with three runs on an RBI single by Cody Powell, a wild pitch and a bases-loaded walk to Alex Frederick, then added two more in the seventh on a RBI singles by Mike Barnhill and Casey Maloney.
The Pacers again rallied in the ninth, loading the bases against reliever Travis Morris and bringing the tying run on deck, but Malone came in and retired the final two batters for his first save of the year.
USC Aiken starter Derek Beasley (6-3) took the loss for the Pacers, giving up eight hits and five runs in 5 2/3 innings of work, walking one while striking out six.
Dennard led the Pirates offensively in the doubleheader, going 5-for-8 with a double, a triple, three runs scored and five RBIs. Maloney also had five hits on the day, going 5-for-9 with three RBIs.
Carmon led the Pacers with a 6-for-9 day, while Miller drove in four runs on three hits in the pair of games.
Armstrong returns to action on Tuesday, April 10, visiting Pfeiffer for a 6:30 p.m. contest in Misenheimer, N.C.