GAFFNEY, S.C. – Freshman leftfielder Chad Balderman (Irmo, S.C.) came through with a two-out, two-run single in the bottom of the seventh inning to break a 2-2 tie as No. 23 Limestone College (16-9, 5-3) took 2-of-3 games from Pfeiffer University (13-13, 6-3) over the weekend after squeaking out a 4-2 win Sunday afternoon at Bob Prevatte Field.
Trailing 2-0 with three and a half innings in the books, Limestone started the comeback trail with a single run in the fourth as senior second baseman Micah Robinson (DeLand, Fla.) plated a run with a two-out RBI infield dribbler, cutting the margin to 2-1. LC loaded the sacks after junior first baseman Jake Rierson (Oak Ridge, N.C.) worked a full count walk but could not capitalize as a long fly ball by senior DH Josh Troutman (North Augusta, S.C.) stranded all three runners.
Two innings later, the Saints used a perfectly executed suicide squeeze by Rierson to knot the game at 2-2, scoring Balderman who led the stanza off with double that split the left center gap. In the top of the seventh, junior rightfielder Jeremy Peed (Roxboro, N.C.) helped maintain the tied ballgame after making a beautiful sliding catch on a ball that was hooking towards the rightfield line. The defensive gem proved to be huge as the Falcons eventually placed runners on first and second before Saints reliever Andrew Thompson (DeLand, Fla.) forced an infield pop to retire the side.
The Blue and Gold used that momentum to break through with two runs in the bottom of the frame after junior third baseman Zach Howard (Mocksville, N.C.) and junior centerfielder Al Benson (Cherryville, N.C.) started the stanza with a pair of singles. Senior shortstop David Christy (Greenville, S.C.) then placed down a textbook sacrifice bunt to move the runners over before Balderman pulled the ball through the left side an out later to score both runners. Sophomore closer Cameron Culp (Gaffney, S.C.) then worked around a pair of runners to record his fifth save of the season as Limestone pulled out the come-from-behind 4-2 victory.
To start the game, both starting pitchers had to dance out of early jams to preserve a scoreless affair. In the bottom of the first, the Saints put runners on the corners with no outs before Pfeiffer’s John McDaniel (Mocksville, N.C.) buckled down and retired the next two batters to get out of danger. Limestone hurler Matt Crisp (Gastonia, N.C.) then escaped unscathed after loading the bases in the top of the second, forcing a harmless dribbler to the mound to maintain the 0-0 tie.
That changed with two outs in the Falcons’ half of the third, however, as Preston Lyon (Gastonia, N.C.) and Jon Gray (Granite Falls, N.C.) combined to hit back-to-back jacks, pushing the visitors out to a 2-0 lead. Crisp settled down after that, working around one-out singles in the fourth and sixth and a leadoff double in the fifth to help set up the late inning heroics by Balderman.
Jacob Yates (Blairs, Va.) lead the Falcons with two hits, including a double, while Lyon and Gray’s solo homeruns accounted for the visitors two runs. McDaniel was saddled with a complete game loss after allowing four runs on 11 hits and a pair of walks. He sat down six by way of strikeout.
Thompson earned the win out of the bullpen after pitching 1.1 scoreless innings, allowing only a walk while striking out two. Although it was a no-decision for Crisp, he pitched a strong 6.2 innings as he allowed only the two runs on seven hits and two walks while fanning two. With the save, Culp moved into third all-time in school history with five saves during a season. He needs three more saves to tie Brandon Moore for the most saves (8) in a single season.
Benson led LC with a 3-for-4 effort at the plate while Balderman finished with two RBIs behind a single and a double. Christy and Micah Robinson tallied two hits and Robinson collected an RBI while junior catcher Joe Maloney (Aston, Pa.) chipped in a hit.