BURLINGTON, N.C. - All nine Flying Fleet batters had at least one hit as sixth-seeded Erskine College toppled fifth-seeded Pfeiffer University, 9-5, in an elimination game during the 2013 Conference Carolinas Baseball Tournament at Burlington Athletic Stadium on Friday. Erskine (27-23) tallied 16 total base knocks including six extra-base hits to advance to another elimination game on Saturday at 3 p.m. The Flying Fleets opponent will be determined later after Friday’s other two games are played. The Falcons (18-32) end their season losing eight straight contests.
After being held to just one hit in its tourney opener against top-seeded Mount Olive, Erskine’s bats quickly heated up a day later against Pfeiffer. The Flying Fleet had three hits and a pair of runs scored just five batters into play. Junior center fielder Chase Corn led off the game with the first of his two doubles down the right field line. Senior first baseman Drew Willingham drove in Corn with a single up the middle before stealing second and scoring on a double down the left line by junior left fielder Will Huff.
The Falcons were even faster scoring in the first inning to cut the deficit in half. Senior right fielder Jacob Yates drew a lead-off walk to start the home half and immediately scored from first on a double to the left field gap by junior Jon Gray.
Erskine extended its lead to 5-1 with a trio of runs in the top of the second that included Corn’s second double in as many innings. Corn took another pitch down the right field line that knocked in the first run just before freshman shortstop Connor Gibson plated the final two runs with a triple to the right-center field fence.
A sacrifice fly by senior shortstop Aarin Sharpe and an RBI double off the bat of junior third baseman Tyler Summers cut the Falcons deficit in half, 5-3, in the fourth but Erskine quickly regained its four-run cushion with a pair of tallies in the top of the fifth. After Pfeiffer committed its second error of the game to keep the inning going for the Fleet, third baseman sophomore Brandon Wooten plated both runs with a double.
Pfeiffer scored one run in both the sixth and seventh but the designated visitors continued to lead with another multi-run inning sandwiched between the Falcons runs. Sophomore catcher Dalton Lindley provided the Falcons with an RBI single in the sixth but run-producing base knocks by junior second baseman Teddy Heiser and senior cater Phillip Herring.
Gray, a First Team All-Conference outfielder, accounted for the Falcons final run when he led off the top of the seventh with a solo blast to left. Gray moved into the league lead with 12 home runs on the season.
Senior closer Kit Carter tossed the final three innings without allowing a hit to preserve the Erskine win for classmate Taylor Wall. Carter earned his seventh save of the season while Wall (4-1) had four strikeouts in six innings of work in the start.
Corn and Willingham – both First Team All-Conference honorees in 2013 – had three hits apiece for the Fleet.
The Falcons recorded a dozen hits for a second straight playoff game but once again came out on the short end of the run total. Gray, Summers and junior Kyle Hackney accounted for half of Pfeiffer’s hit parade with two base knocks each.
Senior Bryan Tuttle (3-10) suffered the loss allowing all nine runs (six earned) over 6 1/3.