LEXINGTON, S.C. – The Presbyterian College baseball team held a 3-1 advantage heading to the bottom of the ninth but Winthrop rallied for three runs in its final at-bat to claim the 4-3 victory on Saturday night in the Big South Championship at the Lexington County Baseball Stadium. The two will now play in a decisive semifinal game at 10 a.m. on Sunday with the winner heading to the Big South Championship game at 3 p.m.
How It Happened
PC, playing as the visiting team for the first time in the tournament, struck first with two runs in the top of the fourth. Brett Auckland drew a leadoff walk and TJ Richardson followed with a double to right center to put runners on second and third. AJ Priaulx drove in the first run of the game with a groundout to second to plate Auckland and move Richardson to third. Connor Slagill then hit a sac fly to right that proved just deep enough to score Richardson from third to give PC a 2-0 lead.
Winthrop finally broke through with a run in the seventh. After the first two in the inning struck out, Brandon Fite drew a walk to keep the inning going. Jake Sullivan then singled through the left side to put runners on first and second. Matthew Mulkey delivered the Eagles' first run of the game with a single to right center to drive in Fite and cut the lead to 2-1. Kehner worked out of the jam with a strikeout looking to punch out all three in the inning and preserve the PC lead.
PC tacked on one more in wild fashion in the top of the ninth. Cletis Avery reached on an infield single to put a man aboard with two outs. Avery then looked to have been picked off at first but managed to steal second on the play. As the play continued, an errant throw from the first baseman allowed Avery to move to third, before a second errant throw, this one from the second baseman, allowed Avery to score, as two Winthrop fielders collided attempting to retrieve the throw. The run gave PC a two-run advantage heading to the bottom half of the inning.
Winthrop opened the final frame with Sullivan reaching on an error by the PC shortstop to bring the tying run to the plate. Mulkey followed with a single through the left side, putting two aboard with no outs. Grant English moved both runners up with a sac bunt for the first out, before PC intentionally walked Anthony Paulsen to load the bases. Mitch Spires followed with a single over head of Avery at short to score one, making it a 3-2 game, with the bases still loaded and one out. Hunter Lipscomb then tied it with a sac fly to center, scoring Mulkey from third and allowing Paulsen to move to third on the play. Babe Thomas then hit a grounder to left side but a second error by the shortstop allowed Thomas to reach, Paulsen to score and gave the Eagles the 4-3 walk-off win.
Pitchers of Record
Winthrop reliever Dalton Whitaker (4-3) earned the victory in relief, facing two batters and allowing one hit and recording a popout to end the ninth.
PC reliever Robert Moss (3-2) suffered the loss, despite not allowing an earned run in 1.0 inning of work on the bump. The senior surrendered three unearned runs on two hits and a walk, all coming in the ninth.
Player of the Game
Brian Kehner turned in a gritty outing to put PC in position for the win. The lefty allowed just a lone run on five hits in 7.0 innings of work with seven strikeouts against four walks. The seven punchouts were the most for Kehner since March 24 when he tallied eight strikeouts against UNC Asheville. He faced just one above the minimum over his first three innings and exited the game after the seventh with a 2-1 lead.
- TJ Richardson went 2-for-4 with a double and a run in the contest for his 17th multi-hit game of the season, now tied for the team lead. The first team All-Big South selection has recorded multi-hit games in each contest in the Big South Tournament, going 6-for-11 (.545) with two doubles, a homer, three runs and three RBIs to lead PC in the three games.
- Nick Guimbarda also had a multi-hit game, going 2-for-4 with a double on the evening. The sophomore has a modest seven-game hitting streak entering Sunday's action with a 15-game reached base streak going as well.
- PC had a six-game winning streak against the Eagles snapped in tonight's game. The Blue Hose had swept Winthrop in each of the last two regular season series between the two.
PC and Winthrop will play a decisive semifinal game on Sunday morning at 10 a.m. at the Lexington County Baseball Stadium. The winner will then advance to the Big South Championship game with first slated for 3 p.m. Both games can be seen on ESPN3.