SAVANNAH, Ga. - The Armstrong State University baseball squad rallied from a 7-0 deficit to tie No. 9 USC Aiken in the eighth inning, but the Pacers scored twice in the top of the ninth to edge the Pirates, 9-7, in Peach Belt Conference action Friday at Pirate Field.
The win keeps the Pacers (13-3, 4-0 PBC) unbeaten in league play while the Pirates fall to 13-4 overall and 0-1 in the league with the loss. The two teams will continue their PBC series with a single game on Saturday at 1:00 p.m.
USC Aiken jumped on the Pirates and starter Matt Meeks in the first inning with three home runs to take a 4-0 lead. Jonathan Banks and Mitchell Price hit back-to-back solo shots with one out, then a Zach Moon double and a Conner Durden two-run shot capped the four-run frame.
The Pacers added a single run in the third on a Daulton Weeks RBI single, then scored single runs in the sixth and seventh innings to take a 7-0 lead heading into the bottom of the seventh.
Armstrong State drew four straight walks to start the seventh - two off of USC Aiken starter Connor Riley and two from reliever Blake Cantrell - to score its first run as Trey Polewski's bases-loaded walk made the score 7-1. Cantrell got the next two batters out, but then served up a grand slam home run to Ryan Patterson to make the score 7-5.
It was Patterson's second grand slam in as many days and third of the season, tying a Peach Belt Conference record for most grand slams in a season with Heath Petersen (Montevallo, 2012) and Joey Davis (Armstrong State, 2008). The five grand slams so far for Armstrong State this year also tie a league record.
In the bottom of the eighth inning, reigning PBC Player of the Week Will Browning launched a two-run home run to straightaway center field to tie the game up at 7-all.
USC Aiken retook the lead in the top of the ninth on Jose Bonilla's RBI single, then added an insurance run on an RBI fielder's choice by Price. Mitch Spence gave up a leadoff single to the Pirates' Mike Warren to start the bottom of the ninth, but then struck out the side to preserve the win and earn his second save of the year.
Hunter Dollander (1-0) picked up the win in relief for the Pacers, giving up one hit and two runs, walking one in one inning of work. Caleb Woods (0-1) took the loss in relief for the Pirates, giving up one hit and two runs - one earned - in 1 1/3 innings, walking four while striking out one.