MISENHEIMER, N.C. – For the second consecutive season, fourth-ranked Pfeiffer University scored a 6-4 win over third-seeded Belmont Abbey College in the opening contest of the 2011 Conference Carolinas baseball tournament. Eric Shuford delivered seven strong innings of work as the Falcons improve to 21-26 overall awaiting the winner of Erskine/Limestone for a 7:00 p.m. matchup on Friday night. The Crusaders fall to 29-16 and will face either Barton or Mount Olive in the first elimination game on Friday morning.
Belmont Abbey got on the board first in the third as a Joey Frabasile two-out single to left scored Justin Vazquez with the game’s first run. Pfeiffer would grab the lead with two in the fourth and three in the fifth while holding off a late Crusaders comeback for the two-run win.
In the fourth, Jacob Yates would begin the frame with a leadoff double down the left field line. Mike Green would follow reaching on a sacrifice bunt attempt, with a Crusaders error mixed in, allowing for Jesse Dunn to drive in both Falcons with a two-bagger down the left field line.
The fifth began with a two-out single to left by Hunter Boehme. After stealing second, Boehme would come around on a Yates base hit to right-center. Moments later, Yates would swipe second and later plate on a Green single to left for a 2-1 visitors lead. The two-out rally concluded with a Tyler Smith run-scoring single to left that brought home Green.
Pfeiffer made it a 6-1 lead in the eighth as Aarin Sharpe singled home Jon Gray. Gray reached on a two-out hit by pitch as four of the six Falcon runs on the day were scored with two outs on the scoreboard.
Belmont Abbey began their rally attempt in the bottom of the eighth as Frabasile belted a two-run homer to left after Tim Dye began the frame with a single up the middle. Immediately following Frabasile, Chris Vazquez would blast off with his own solo home run as the back-to-back jacks made it a 6-4 game. Pfeiffer closer Luke Wilhelm would then settled down into a groove to earn the save over his final two innings of work.
Shuford scattered just six hits in his seven innings of work allowing three runs with nine strikeouts. Wilhelm registered the save with a run on three hits with two strikeouts. At the plate, Yates led the way from the leadoff positions going 3-for-5 with a RBI and two runs scored.