GAFFNEY, S.C. Ė If you like pitching, you missed a couple of great games this afternoon at Bob Prevatte Field as Limestone College (15-9, 4-3) starter Cameron Ward (DeLand, Fla.) pitched a gem in game one and was followed by an equally impressive performance by Pfeiffer starter Bryan Tuttle (Lenoir, N.C.) in game two, forcing a doubleheader split Saturday, March 12. The Saints took game one by a count of 5-2 before the Falcons captured game two by a score of 4-2.
Limestone used a leadoff walk by senior second baseman Micah Robinson (DeLand, Fla.) to jump start a two-run bottom of the second. An infield single on a hit and run by junior first baseman Jake Rierson (Oak Ridge, N.C.) placed two runners on base for junior DH Jayvon Sanders (Rembert, S.C.) who promptly laced a triple into the rightfield corner to stake the Saints to a 2-0 margin.
Another leadoff walk issued to Micah Robinson in the fourth came back to haunt Falcons starter Eric Shuford (Shelby, N.C.) after freshman leftfielder Chad Balderman (Irmo, S.C.) drove the left center gap in the next at-bat, extending the home teamís advantage to 3-0. Pfeiffer got one of those runs back in the top of the fifth as Eric Shoemaker (Huntersville, N.C.) trotted home on a throwing error by junior catcher Joe Maloney (Aston, Pa.).†
The Blue and Gold regained a three-run advantage in their half of the seventh, taking advantage of a leadoff triple by junior third baseman Zach Howard (Mocksville, N.C.). After sending his ball past a diving defender in rightfield, Howard came home to put the Saints up 4-1 on an RBI single by junior centerfielder Al Benson (Cherryville, N.C.). The Falcons tallied a run in the top of the eighth after Jacob Yates (Blairs, Va.) grounded out with runners on second and third, cutting the lead in half.
LC responded with a single run in bottom of the frame on an RBI double by junior righfielder Jeremy Peed (Roxboro, N.C.) before sophomore closer Cameron Culp (Gaffney, S.C.) induced a 6-4-3 double play in the ninth inning to collect his fourth save of the season and wrap up a 5-2 final for the Saints.
Yates led the Falcons in game one with a 2-for-4 showing at the dish and an RBI while Kevin Price (Asheville, N.C.) and Tyler Smith (Locust, N.C.) each chipped in a 1-for-2 effort. Collecting the loss was Shuford who allowed four runs on nine hits and two walks while striking out five.
Ward picked up his fourth win of the season after pitching seven strong innings, allowing two runs, one earned, and a walk. He struck out seven Falcons. Junior reliever Andrew Thompson (DeLand, Fla.) and Culp combined to throw two scoreless innings.
Balderman paced the LC offense with a 3-for-4 game at the plate, including a double and an RBI while Peed and Benson each contributed two hits and an RBI. Sanders chipped in two RBIs on a triple while Howard also included a triple. Senior shortstop David Christy (Greenville, S.C.) and Rierson each added a hit for the Saints.
Pfeiffer drew first blood in game two, collecting a pair of two-out runs in the top of the second to jump out to the early lead. With two away and a runner on second, Price came through with an RBI single to rightfield before swiping second base and then scoring on a perfectly executed hit-and-run off the bat of Jesse Dunn (Easley, S.C.), giving the visitors a 2-0 advantage.
The Falcons added two more runs in the next stanza to open up a 4-0 cushion. A one-out walk issued to Jon Gray (Granite Falls, N.C.) created all types of problems for Saints starter Josh White (Moravian Falls, N.C.) as he came around to score on a shot through the left side by Aarin Sharpe (Winterville, N.C.), staking Pfeiffer to a 3-0 margin. After junior reliever Zack Lucas (Annapolis, Md.) was inserted in the game, Hunter Boehme (Winston-Salem, N.C.) greeted him with a little infield dribbler that pushed PU to a four-run edge.
Pfeiffer starter Bryan Tuttle (Lenoir, N.C.) had a no-hit shutout working through the first four innings. However, Balderman broke both with one swing of the lumber in the bottom of the fifth, cracking a first-pitch solo shot that sailed over the left centerfield fence. Two batters later, Peed narrowly missed a homerun in almost the same spot, settling for a one-out double off the top of the fence instead. He would be left stranded after Tuttle struck out the next two batters.
LC climbed even closer in the bottom of the sixth after Maloney laced a one-out double down the leftfield line, scoring Christy from first base and cutting the home teamís deficit to 4-2. That would be it though as the Saints would strand the runner on second and another one in the bottom of the seventh, falling by a count of 4-2.
Sharpe paced the Falcons in the second game, going 2-for-3 with an RBI while Preston Lyon (Gastonia, N.C.) also chipped in a 2-for-4 afternoon. Price finished with a pair of hits and a run driven in while Boehme and Dunn each collected a hit and an RBI. Tuttle was masterful as he picked up the win, striking out 12 in a complete game effort. He allowed two runs on four hits and a walk.††††
White took the loss, dropping his season mark to 3-2, after allowing four runs on six hits and two walks in just 2.1 innings pitched. Lucas threw 4.2 scoreless innings, striking out six batters while scattering three hits.
Baldermanís big fly highlighted the second game for the Saints while Maloney finished with a double, his only hit of the day, and an RBI. Peed doubled and Christy tallied a base knock.
Limestone and Pfeiffer will concluded the series tomorrow, March 13, in the rubber game with first pitch scheduled for 1 p.m.