Barons take one from No. 20 Eagles in competitive series

MOUNT VERNON -- For the second straight game last week and for the third consecutive time against a nationally ranked opponent, the Brewton-Parker College baseball team let the opposition know that no lead is safe.

The Barons trailed NAIA No. 20 ranked Faulkner University by six runs early in their Georgia-Alabama-Carolina Conference series opener at home Friday night, but sophomore Chris Brown's last two trips to the plate completed an 8-7 victory for Brewton-Parker.

Brown's three-run home run in the bottom of the eighth inning pulled the Barons to within a run at 7-6, then he returned to the plate with the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth and drove home two runners to finish Brewton-Parker's comeback victory.

Unfortunately for the Barons, their Friday night success did not roll over to Saturday's doubleheader, with Faulkner winning 4-2 and 7-6 in 10 innings to take the series decided by four runs total.

Had the teams not been playing a nine-inning game Friday, rather than the seven-inning contests they play during doubleheaders, Brown's heroics might not have ever occurred.

"In nine-inning games, you have a lot of baseball to be played," Brewton-Parker coach Chad Parker said. "They jumped out early, but we kept telling the kids, 'Just keep fighting, try to play hard and keep going.' We tried to peck away and peck away until the dam burst."

Did it ever. After Faulkner scored twice in the fourth inning to take a 7-1 lead, the Barons scored one run in each of the fourth - on senior Chris Coker's solo home run - fifth and sixth innings.

In the eighth, after senior Denson Gleaton led off with a single and junior Miles Zachary followed with a pinch-hit walk, Brown belted a pitch to right-center field to pull the Barons within one at 7-6.

After sophomore right-hander Zane Miller threw his second no-hit inning in the top of the ninth in relief of starting sophomore left-hander Trae Wiggins, Brewton-Parker immediately got busy again at the plate.

Sophomore Johnny King led of with a single, and senior Ricky Nelson gained base on an attempted sacrifice bunt that became a single. Gleaton's sacrifice bunt advanced King to third and Nelson to second, and Faulkner gave junior Eric Prevatt an intentional walk before Brown came to bat.

Brown lined a shot into right field, enabling King and Nelson to score and complete the comeback.

"Chris Brown is one of those kids who is not the greatest athlete, but he has a desire about him that you hope everybody has," Parker said of Brown, who was 2-for-4 with five runs batted in after his late-inning heroics. "He is one of the hardest workers you will see. He has had big hit after big hit all year long.

Miller (1-0) had three strikeouts in his two no-hit innings, which came after Wiggins scattered 10 hits and seven runs (all earned, but none during his final three innings) with seven strikeouts and four walks.

"You can't say enough about how these kids want to win. Not just against bad teams are they doing it, but against nationally ranked teams," added Parker, whose team scored two comeback wins the weekend before over then-No. 3 ranked Auburn University-Montgomery (Ala.).

Gleaton was 2-for-4 at the plate with one run scored and an RBI double that scored King in the fifth inning. King also was 2-for-4 and scored two runs, hit a double and drew a walk.

On Saturday, however, the comeback fate belonged to the visiting Eagles, who used the long ball in both games to their advantage and complete the sweep.

Sophomore Matt Torbert had the game-winning RBI in each game thanks to his two homers, the first a three-run shot that gave Faulkner a 3-1 lead in the fourth inning of the opener. The teams traded single runs in the seventh inning.

Sophomore right-hander Andrew Gernatt (5-1) took his first loss after scattering seven hits and allowing all four Eagles runs (three earned) with one strikeout in six-plus innings.

"Both pitchers pitched pretty well, but their guy is pretty good," Brewton-Parker pitching coach Mike Rodgers said. "One bad pitch by Gernatt was it."

Sophomore Jeremiah Barrow had two of the Barons' five hits, including a seventh-inning solo home run.

Torbert's solo home run in Saturday's nightcap ended the 10-inning game that featured four homers. Nelson had the first homer, a two-run shot in the first inning to give the Barons the lead.

Faulkner (32-16 overall, 12-6 GACC) had a pair of two-run homers in the fifth inning to take a 5-3 lead before the Barons scored runs on two wild pitches and Nelson's RBI single to regain the lead 6-5. The Eagles tied the score with a run in the sixth.

Sophomore right-hander Ashley Hooks threw 4-2/3 innings of relief after junior right-hander Brent Kennedy went the first 4-1/3 innings. Kennedy allowed three runs (one earned) on three hits with five strikeouts and three walks, while Hooks (2-2) allowed four hits and four runs (two earned), including Torbert's 10th-inning homer, with five strikeouts and three walks.

"Hooks kept getting a lot of people out, but he just gave up the homer in the 10th," Rodgers said.

Offensively, Nelson led the Barons (20-12, 8-8) with a 2-for-3 effort and two RBI, with Davis going 2-for-3 with a walk.

After Tuesday's doubleheader at Thomas University in Thomasville, the Barons return to GACC action Friday and Saturday with a series against Emmanuel College in Royston. The teams play a nine-inning game Friday starting at 3 p.m. and a doubleheader Saturday beginning at noon.

Brewton-Parker then finishes its home schedule Monday with a GACC doubleheader against Southern Polytechnic State University beginning at 3 p.m. The Barons' four seniors will be honored before the twin bill, which is a make-up from March 15.

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Brewton-Parker College teammates mob sophomore Chris Brown after his ninth-inning single drove home the tying and winning runs in the Barons' 8-7 victory over Georgia-Alabama-Carolina Conference foe and NAIA No. 20 ranked Faulkner University (Ala.) at the Brewton-Parker field on the campus in Mount Vernon.