ASHEVILLE, N.C. – The Presbyterian College baseball team erased a 9-1 deficit after the second inning in a wild back-and-forth battle as the Blue Hose rolled on to a record-setting 23-17 win over UNC Asheville to cap the season and sweep the Bulldogs on Saturday afternoon at McCormick Field.
PC ends the season at 24-32 and 9-19 in the Big South, both Division I era-records. The win also moves PC to eighth place in the Big South Conference standings, which would send them to the Big South Tournament if they qualified during reclassification. UNC Asheville drops to 15-37 and 7-20 in conference play. The Blue Hose also complete their first sweep since a three-game takedown of UNC Central on March 13 and the first Big South sweep of the season.
The Blue Hose recorded a number of season milestones in the win. PC’s offense helped set new 2011 highs in runs (19), hits (19), RBI (17), home runs (tied, three) and total bases (33). The two teams combined for 40 runs, 42 hits and nine errors in the game.
Brad Zebedis (Rock Hill, S.C.) went five-for-six on Saturday, a total that included his 13th home run of the year and put him in position to secure a slew of Big South Conference records. Zebedis ends the season with a .425 batting average, currently the highest in the league this season and on pace to stand as the most ever by a freshman—and ties him with Kevin White for the modern-era school record. Barring anyone topping him in the Big South Tournament, Zebedis also achieves the ninth-highest average in Big South history and would become the first freshman ever to lead the Big South in average and home runs.
The freshman also collected his 23rd double, setting a modern era record (since 1988). His slugging percentage (.717) also ranks fourth, his hits (90) tie him for second, his on-base percentage (.492) ranks fifth and his total bases (152) rank second in the annals of PC history.
Tony Micklon (Sumter, S.C.) drove in four runs thanks to his 12th home run of the year and Kenny Bryant (Goose Creek, S.C.) posted four RBI as well. Five total Blue Hose racked up at least three hits in the game.
Nick Ferguson (Lancaster, S.C.) earned the win to move to 2-0.
The Blue Hose struck first, using an error to help manufacture an opening-inning score. Williams kicked off the game by drawing a leadoff walk and remained at first base as Zebedis stepped to the plate. Zebedis fought off a 2-2 pitch through the right side for a single and Williams zoomed past third as a wayward throw from rightfielder Mike Vaughn allowed the shortstop to cross the plate. The run put PC ahead going into the bottom of the first, 1-0.
UNC Asheville evened the game in the bottom of the frame at 1-1. Two Bulldog singles brought Jordan Lurie home to tie the game up again after one.
Eight hits and an error helped Asheville add eight runs to its lead in the second to go ahead 9-1.
The Blue Hose rallied back in the top of the third to take four of those runs back and cut the lead in half, 9-5.
The inning began in identical fashion to the first, with Williams walking to lead off the stanza. Hite followed with a double to left field to leave first base open for Zebedis. Zebedis fell behind in the count but powered an opposite-field double off the right field wall to score Williams and put Hite at third.
Bryant kept the rally going by lifting a double that fell just fair along the right field line to plate Zebedis and Hite, making the score 9-4. Micklon completed the scoring, driving the first pitch he saw back up the middle for an RBI single.
The Bulldogs continued to put runs on the board, however, scoring two in the bottom of the inning to go up 11-5.
Down by six, the Blue Hose batted around to hang eight on the Bulldogs and retake the lead, 13-11. A single from Alex Loftin (Denver, N.C.) and double from Williams put two aboard with one away. Loftin came home on the next pitch as Hite drove a single to right field, putting runners on the corners and bringing Zebedis to the plate.
Zebedis watched six pitches including one ball before picking up his 23rd double of the year, a deep shot to left centerfield to score two. Bryant took a 3-0 pitch off the shoulder to reach first and become the second baserunner on the basepaths. Neither had to run much, however, as Micklon smacked a 1-1 pitch over the left field wall to tie the game and record his fourth RBI of the day and 12th home run of the year.
The Blue Hose didn’t stop there, as Nate Horton (Spartanburg, S.C.) reached on an error and Gabe Grammer (Irmo, S.C.) moved him over with a single. Another error sent Horton home on a Nate Chong (Duluth, Ga.) fielder’s choice and PC scored once more as Loftin plated Grammer on another fielder’s choice. When the dust settled, the Blue Hose picked up eight runs on seven hits and two errors to lead, 13-11.
True to the see-saw nature of the contest, UNC Asheville posted four hits in the bottom of the fourth to score two and deadlock the game again at 13-13.
PC took the lead right back in the top of the fifth. Zebedis led off by walking to first and the freshman took second on a wild pitch to Micklon. Micklon then drove a payoff pitch to the outfield for a single and scored Zebedis for a go-ahead run, his fifth RBI of the day. A hit-by-pitch and a walk pushed Micklon to third and loaded the bases full of Blue Hose for Chong.
Chong took a 1-1 pitch deep to centerfield that allowed Micklon to score on the sacrifice fly. Loftin finished off the run by blooping a single to right field that brought Horton home and made the score 16-13. After holding UNC Asheville scoreless in the fifth, PC held its lead going into the sixth.
The long balls came out in the sixth for the Blue Hose, as back-to-back solo home runs from Zebedis and Bryant added two to the PC lead, 18-13. Zebedis knocked the third pitch he saw to left field for his home run and Bryant sent a towering shot to centerfield, off the top of the scoreboard 325 feet away from home plate.
Two hits and two errors helped UNC Asheville to three runs in the Bulldog half of the sixth, narrowing the PC advantage to 18-16.
The Blue Hose added another in the top of the seventh as Loftin drove Chong home from second after a UNC error to put the centerfielder aboard. PC took a 19-16 lead through the seventh inning stretch and into the bottom of the stanza.
PC hung another four on the Bulldogs in the eighth as Bryant picked up another RBI and Horton drove a single off the wall to score two more with the bases loaded. A Grammer fielder’s choice allowed Micklon to score the 23rd run of the game as the Blue Hose opened a seven-run lead, 23-16.
UNC Asheville picked up one last run in the ninth but PC held off the Bulldogs to win, 23-17.
Stay tuned to GoBlueHose.com for a complete season recap and a rundown of all the records from this year.