ASHEVILLE, N.C. – Five hits and two runs were all the Presbyterian College baseball team needed to top UNC Asheville on Friday afternoon, thanks to a stellar performance from Chandler Knox (Columbia, S.C.) and the PC pitching staff.
PC moves to 23-32 and 8-18 in Big South play, overtaking UNC Asheville in the conference standings. The Bulldogs move to 15-36 and 7-19 in league play.
The win gives the Blue Hose their first series win since taking two games from High Point on March 18 and 19.
Knox made his first start since March 1 and did not disappoint. The freshman righthander earned the win by allowing only three hits in seven innings, surrendering one hit in the third and another four innings later. Knox also struck out three and moves to 4-4 on the season.
Brad Zebedis (Rock Hill, S.C.) hit his 12th home run of the season and went one-for-two after drawing two walks, while Kenny Bryant (Goose Creek, S.C.) drove in PC’s second run. Zebedis’ home run ties him with Bucky O’Hara for the fifth-most home runs in a single season since 1988 and moves him into fifth place in total bases (142).
Bud Jeter (Columbia, S.C.) earned his first save, going perfect in one and one-third innings. The Blue Hose pitching staff gave up only five hits on the day.
UNC Asheville starting pitcher Grier Harrison takes the loss to go 3-10.
PC wasted little time finding the scoreboard by scoring in the game’s opening inning. The Blue Hose led off with two outs before Zebedis smacked an 87 mile-per-hour fastball on a 2-0 pitch over the left field wall for the third PC home run of the weekend. The solo shot gave the Blue Hose a 1-0 lead going into the bottom of the first.
The PC defense offered another solid performance on Friday. The Blue Hose committed zero errors and Nate Chong (Duluth, Ga.) made a diving grab in centerfield early in the game while making his fourth start at the position this season. Bryant also made a stellar snag at first base to eliminate a possible Bulldog hit. Shortstop Andrew Williams (Augusta, Ga.) also recorded his 153 assist of the season, tying him for second-most in the modern era for one year.
The Blue Hose threatened to build on their lead in the top of sixth but could not convert. Williams became the second PC player to get a hit in the contest in reaching first base and took second on a Mack Hite (Abbeville, S.C.) sacrifice bunt. Zebedis walked to first on a 3-1 ball and both baserunners advanced on a double steal effort. Williams stood 90 feet away from another PC score but the inning ended before he could cross home plate, with the Blue Hose lead remaining at 1-0.
The eighth would see both teams score one run apiece. PC put runners on the corners with one out in the top of the inning thanks to a John Wagner (Olney, Md.) single, a Williams sacrifice and a Hite bunt single. With Zebedis at the plate, a Bulldog pitch found its way to the backstop but catcher Nick Collazo flipped the ball to the pitcher in time to tag Wagner for the out. The play allowed Hite to move to third before Zebedis walked for the second time on Friday.
The walk prompted UNC Asheville to send reliever David Ricker to the mound to face Bryant. The junior first baseman lined the Ricker’s first pitch back up the middle to bring Hite around for an RBI single, extending the PC lead to 2-0. A pitching change helped end the inning but the Blue Hose had doubled their lead heading into the bottom of the frame.
UNC Asheville took one back in the eighth but the Blue Hose forced the Bulldogs to strand a runner on third and keep their lead. A leadoff single brought Chad White (Suwanee, Ga.) into the game and Asheville took a single and a sacrifice bunt out off of the freshman to set up Jordan Lurie with runners on second and third. Lurie lifted a fly ball deep enough to allow Tommy Houmard to tag up and score.
Jeter jogged in from the bullpen to replace White in hopes of securing the final out with a runner at third. The freshman worked the count to 2-2 and got Danny Baatz to ground out to end the stanza and keep the lead intact, 2-1.
Jeter pitched a perfect ninth to pick up the save and hold on to the PC win.
The Blue Hose return for the final game of the 2011 campaign tomorrow at McCormick Field. First pitch is slated for 1 p.m.