CLINTON, S.C. – The Presbyterian College baseball team took a four-run lead in to the ninth inning but NC Central rallied for three runs and had the potential go-ahead run in scoring position, before Will Smith got a flyout to center to preserve the 8-7 victory for the Blue Hose on Wednesday afternoon at the PC Baseball Complex in Clinton, S.C. PC improves to 8-7 on the season, while NCCU drops to 7-5.
How It Happened
PC got the scoring started with a four-run second inning to open up an early lead. Nick Wise got it started with a single up the middle to put the leadoff man aboard. After a lineout, a dropped fly ball by the left fielder allowed Nick Guimbarda to reach and Wise to move to second with just one out. Thatcher Coleman then hit a ground-rule double to left center to score Wise for the first run of the game. After a popout, Andrew Bladt delivered the early blow with his first home run in a PC uniform with a blast to left to clear the bases and make it a 4-0 ballgame.
NCCU proved pesky on the afternoon, though, and got a run in the fourth and three in the fifth to tie the game at 4-4. In the fourth, a walk and back-to-back PC errors allowed a runner to score to cut the lead to 4-1. The fifth saw Jake Raby double to right to lead off the inning and, after a groundout, back-to-back doubles from Carter Williams and Corey Joyce to put two runs on the board. After a flyout for the second out, Conrad Kovalcik singled up the middle to score one more and tie the game at 4-4.
The Blue Hose answered with three runs of their own in the sixth and one more in the seventh. AJ Priaulx led off the sixth with a triple, his second of the year, and Wise reached on a hit-by-pitch to put runners on the corners with no outs. TJ Richardson continued his hot hitting with a double to left center to score Priaulx and put two in scoring position, still with no outs. Guimbarda then came up big again with a two-RBI double to right to drive home both runners and extend the lead to 7-4. PC then tacked on the decisive run in the seventh, as Cletis Avery doubled inside the bag at third and Wise drove him in two batters later with an RBI single to right to make it a 8-4 lead.
The Eagles made things interesting in the ninth, getting back-to-back singles to start the frame to put runners on the corners with no outs. After error allowed one to reach and one to score, Smith got a strikeout for the first out of the inning with the score 8-5. Kovalcik then singled to load the bases and Mitch McCrary followed with an RBI single to left center, cutting it to 8-6 with the bases still loaded with one out. A comebacker to the pitcher for the 1-2 putout accounted for the second out without letting a run come across but a bases loaded walk cut the lead to one at 8-7. Smith was able to dig deep and retire the final hope for NCCU, getting a flyout to center to give PC the 8-7 victory.
Pitchers of Record
PC starter Eric Miles (3-0) picked up his third straight victory to start his college career with gutty performance on the bump. The rookie hurler allowed four runs (three earned) on seven hits in 6.0 innings pitched with three strikeouts against a lone walk. Miles once again did a good job keep his pitches in the strikezone, totaling 54 strikes on 83 pitches.
NCCU reliever Marcus Washburn (0-1) was tagged with the loss, allowing three runs on three hits and a hit batter without recording an out.
Player of the Game
Nick Wise continues to swing a hot bat for the Blue Hose, going 2-for-3 with two runs and an RBI out of the cleanup spot. Wise reached base in three of his four plate appearances and ultimately drove in what proved to be the decisive run of the game in the victory. He improved his average to .389 on the season and has now scored a team-high 11 times on the year.
- PC played its ninth one-run game of the year in 15 games this season, improving to 6-3 in those nine contests.
- Nick Guimbarda had another big day at the plate, going 2-for-3 with a double, a run and two RBIs. TJ Richardson also remained hot, going 1-for-3 with a double, a walk, a run and an RBI. The 4-5-6 hitters in PC’s lineup – Wise, Richardson and Guimbarda -- combined to go 5-for-9 with four runs and four RBIs in the win.
- Andrew Bladt hit his first home run in a PC uniform with a three-run shot in the second inning. It is just the fifth home run by the Blue Hose so far this season and the second in a home game.
- Jack McLaughlin threw a scoreless seventh inning in his third appearance of the year, allowing just a lone hit to the four batters that he faced.
- Seven different players scored a run for PC in the victory, while the team combined for seven extra-base hits on the afternoon. PC pitching also managed to strand 10 NCCU base runners in the game.
The Blue Hose return to action this weekend with a three-game series at Auburn, beginning Friday at 3 p.m. ET