CLINTON, S.C. – With the game locked in a 1-1 tie after seventh inning, UNC Asheville scored three runs in the eighth to claim a 4-1 lead before holding on against the Presbyterian College baseball team for the 4-2 victory in the series opener. PC drops to 11-13 overall, 0-1 in the Big South, while the Bulldogs improve to 9-11 overall, 2-2 in the Big South.
How It Happened
UNC Asheville got the game started with a run in the first inning, coming without a hit. After PC starter Brian Kehner opened the game with a strikeout, an error by the third baseman allowed Joe Tietjen to reach and go to second on the play. On the next play, an error by the shortstop allowed Tietjen to score and gave UNC Asheville a 1-0 lead.
PC answered with a run in the bottom of the second. Connor Slagill singled to start the inning and TJ Richardson reached on a hit-by-pitch to put two aboard with no outs. A fielder’s choice erased the runner headed for third to make it two on with one out, before a flyout accounted for the second out but allowed Richardson to move from second to third. Richardson then scored as Brett Auckland attempted to steal second to force a throw to second, which allowed Richardson to come home before a return throw to the plate to make it a 1-1 game.
Both starting pitchers were in control from that point on. Kehner allowed a single in each inning from the third through the seventh but yielded nothing else in any of the frames. UNC Asheville starter Brandon Harris allowed just four base runners during that same span, as the game was deadlocked at 1-1 after seven.
Asheville broke the tie with a three-run eighth inning. Hunter Kyzar was able to retire the first two in the inning with a strikeout and a groundout to third. The Bulldogs would rally with two outs, as Tietjen singled and Danny Wilson reached on a hit-by-pitch to put two aboard. Brandon Lankford gave UNCA the lead with an RBI single up the middle and, after a wild pitch, Kyle Carruthers singled to right to score two more to make it a 4-1 ballgame.
PC attempted a rally of its own in the ninth. Auckland singled off the pitcher with one out and later moved to second on a throwing error by the pitcher on a failed pickoff attempt. Colton Chapman then singled to left, putting runners at the corners with one out. Jack McLaughlin followed with a pinch-hit at-bat, driving a ball to left for a sacrifice fly to score Auckland and make it a 4-2 game. Asheville closer Justin Woods got a flyout to right to end the game and preserve the victory.
Pitchers of Record
Brandon Harris (3-1) earned the win, allowing one run on two hits 7.0 innings of work with three walks and five strikeouts.
Hunter Kyzar (0-3) suffered the loss, allowing three runs on three hits in 2.0 innings pitched with one strikeout against no walks.
Player of the Game
Brian Kehner was excellent again on the bump, going 7.0 innings and allowing just one unearned run to receive a no decision in the game. Kehner allowed five hits and struck out eight batters for the second straight start without issuing a walk. He pounded the strikezone as he totaled 70 strikes in 98 pitches on the afternoon.
- Brett Auckland went 1-for-2 with two walks and a run for the Blue Hose at the plate to reach base in three of his four plate appearances. The lefty improved his average to .333 on the year.
- Connor Slagill made his second straight start at first base and went 1-for-4 in the game, as did Nick Wise and Colton Chapman. Tyler Weyenberg collected the remaining hit for PC in a 1-for-5 effort at the plate.
- PC has now played 15 games that have been decided by three runs or less this season.
The Blue Hose and Bulldogs will now play a doubleheader on Saturday beginning at 11 a.m., due to the threat of inclement weather on Sunday.