SAVANNAH, Ga. - USC Aiken's Nile Goings clubbed a three-run home run in the fourth inning to help the No. 9-ranked Pacers collect a 7-2 Peach Belt Conference win over host Armstrong State University on Saturday afternoon at Pirate Field.
The Pacers improved to 14-3 overall and 5-0 in the league with the win, while Armstrong State (13-5, 0-2 PBC) drops back-to-back games for the first time this season with the loss. The two teams will wrap up their three game PBC series on Sunday with a 1:00 p.m. first pitch.
Armstrong State picked up the first run of the game on Chandler Corley's RBI single in the bottom of the third inning, staking the Pirates to a short-lived 1-0 lead. In the top of the fourth, Goings then hit a three-run shot off of Armstrong State starter Tanner Hall (3-1) to give the Pacers a 3-1 lead.
Zach Moon added a solo home run in the top of the sixth to make the score 4-1 in favor of USC Aiken, but the Pirates' Caleb Slaughter got that run back on an inside-the-park home run to right field in the bottom of the sixth inning.
Trailing by a 4-2 score, the Pirates had a golden opportunity to tie in the bottom of the eighth when Zack Goble and Slaughter led off the inning with back-to-back hits, but USC Aiken reliever William Ard threw out the lead runner on a bunt attempt, then induced a double-play ball to get out of the jam.
The Pacers added three insurance runs in the top of the ninth on an RBI single by Juan Bonilla, a throwing error by the Pirates' Nick Andress on a failed pickoff throw and a sacrifice fly by Jonathan Banks.
Joseph Benitez (4-1) notched the win for USC Aiken, hurling seven innings, giving up eight hits and two runs, walking one while striking out 10. Hall took the loss for the Pirates, going 6 2/3 innings and giving up four hits and four runs, walking three while striking out six.
Will Hodges went 3-for-4 with a double to lead the Pirates at the plate, while Slaughter and Corley each had two hits. Bonilla and Moon had two hits apiece to lead the Pacers.