LAURINBURG, N.C. - Senior designated hitter/first baseman Josh Axelsen (St. Charles, Ill.) had a pair of hits in both games of Friday’s Conference Carolinas baseball doubleheader including a game-tying two-run homer in the finale as St. Andrews Presbyterian College earned a split against Pfeiffer University, with the Falcons winning game one 14-4 and the Knights rallying for a 6-5 win in the nightcap. Zack Pou (Stanley, N.C.) picked up hits in each contest moving his streak to 34 consecutive games with a base knock.
St. Andrews (9-29-1 Overall, 6-13 Conf.) and Pfeiffer (20-22, 11-9) will play the rubber game of the three-game series on Saturday at Clark Field with a 1 p.m. first pitch. SAPC reached its win total of last year (nine) in its first games of April and will be going for its third consecutive conference series win tomorrow.
Axelsen had a team-high four hits on the day while Axelsen and junior Manny Williams (Wilmington, N.C.) both drove in three runs for the Knights.
Falcons’ freshman third baseman Aarin Sharpe (Winterville, N.C.) led all players with five hits and five RBI on the warm afternoon. Seniors Josh Strickland (Liberty, N.C.), Carlos Badillo (Gurabo, Puerto Rico), and Will Davis (New London, N.C.) all tallied four hits.
GAME ONE: Pfeiffer 14, St. Andrews 4
Pfeiffer jumped out to a 5-1 lead in the first three innings and scored in a total of six frames to pull away to a 10-run victory in the opener.
Sharpe drove in a game-high four runs on three hits for the Falcons. Badillo and Davis also had three base knocks apiece for the visitors.
St. Andrews got most of its run production from the top two spots in the order. Junior Michael Cantwell (Burlington, N.C.) ripped a double and a triple while scoring three of the Knights four runs in the leadoff role. Manny Williams, who had a pair of hits, drove in Cantwell twice with a single and a sacrifice fly.
Pfeiffer jumped out to a two-run lead in the top of the first that featured an RBI-single by Davis before St. Andrews scored a quick run in the home half of the first. Cantwell led off with a double to left-center and then scored on a Manny Williams single through the left side of the infield.
Senior Myles Pearl (High Point, N.C.) tacked on two more Falcon runs in the second with his team-high 13th home run of the season. Pearl’s two-run shot over the right-center field fence extended Pfeiffer’s lead to 4-1. The Falcons added another run in the third and two more in the fifth to build up a 7-1 advantage midway through the contest.
SAPC cut the deficit to four, 7-3, with two runs in the bottom of the fifth with three extra-base hits. Freshman Adrian Rivera (Staten Island, N.Y.) led off with a double down the left field line and then scored on a triple by Cantwell to the left-center field gap. Cantwell was then able to tag up and score on a sac fly caught by the right fielder off the bat off Manny Williams.
Pfeiffer pulled away late with three runs in the seventh and four in the eighth highlighted by a pair of run producing hits by Sharpe including an RBI-double in the seventh and a two-run single in the eighth.
The Knights tacked on one final run in their last at-bat on an Axelsen single up the middle. Axelsen, Cantwell, Manny Williams, and junior R.J. Blasi (Hubert, N.C.) all had two hits for the hosts.
Pearl finished with three runs batted in while Badillo and junior Jesse Dunn (Easley, S.C.) both knocked in two Pfeiffer runners. A quintet of Falcons all scored twice.
Junior starter John McDaniel (Mocksville, N.C.) improved to .500 on the season with eight solid innings of work. McDaniel (4-4) scattered 10 hits and allowed three runs while striking out five. Senior David Carbonell (St. Charles, Ill.) took the loss, giving up seven runs (six earned) on nine hits and four walks. Carbonell (2-5) fanned four.
GAME TWO: St. Andrews 6, Pfeiffer 5
Trailing 5-3, SAPC scored three runs in the bottom of the fifth including a two-run, game-tying homer by Axelsen as the Knights earned a split of the twin bill with a 6-5 win in the nightcap. Axelsen’s fifth blast of the season just missed hitting the new St. Andrews scoreboard located past the left field fence.
After the Axelsen rocket, St. Andrews kept the rally going with a pair of two-out hits to take its only lead of the day. Sophomore Ethan Powell (Greenville, N.C.) hit a single to right and then scored from first on a deep double by freshman Jeff Brothers (East Sparta, Ohio) in the left field gap.
Pfeiffer threatened in the last two frames after SAPC took the lead including a bases-loaded opportunity in the seventh. However, sophomore reliever James Shahayda (Virginia Beach, Va.) got the final two outs of the game with a strikeout and a well turned fielder’s choice groundout in which sophomore shortstop Michael Ficarro (Pine City, N.Y.) made a nice play to his right and made an accurate throw to second just before the Falcon runner slide into the base.
Shahayda earned his second save of the season after recording the final two outs. Junior starter Jack Crawford (Montgomery, N.Y.) surrendered five runs over 6 1/3 innings to earn his second consecutive victory. Crawford (3-4), who only gave up two extra-base hits in his 13 hits allowed, had three strikeouts. The leftie hurled his team-high third complete game of the season.
Pfeiffer jumped on Crawford early as the first three batters of the game all scored. After a leadoff walk, the Falcons hit three consecutive singles just out of the reach of fielders to take the early 3-0 lead including a two-run single down the left field line by Davis.
SAPC knotted the score at 3-3 with a trio of runs in the second. The Knights took advantage of a couple Falcons errors in the frame to score two unearned runs. Junior Jason Murray (Syracuse, N.Y.) and Manny Williams both knocked in one run in the stanza.
The Falcons regained the lead for the final time with a pair of runs in the third, 5-3, on an RBI-double by junior Eric Shoemaker (Huntersville, N.C.) and a single by Sharpe that plated Shoemaker before the Knights rallied in the fifth.
Freshman Daniel Oliver (Plymouth, N.C.), Powell, and Axelsen all had two hits for the Royal Blue & White.
Pfeiffer left at least one runner on base in each of the seven innings for a total of 10 stranded in the game. Eight of nine Falcons starters had hits as Pfeiffer outhit St. Andrews by four (13-9). Freshman starter Austin Campbell (Charlotte, N.C.) was tagged with the loss allowing six runs (four earned) on nine hits over 4 2/3 innings. Campbell (3-2) did have four K’s.