Brevard takes 7-5 thriller over Emmanuel

Box Score

FRANKLIN SPRINGS, Ga. – The Brevard College baseball team equaled its best start in NCAA-era program history with a thrilling 7-5 come-from-behind win on the road at Emmanuel on Tuesday.

Brevard’s record now stands at 5-2 through the season’s first seven games, equaling the 2009 season for the best record through seven games since the program gained full NCAA Division II membership. The Tornados can secure their best start in the NCAA era with a win tomorrow afternoon over Montreat.

It took late-game heroics by the Tornados’ offense to claim the victory in Franklin Springs. Emmanuel (1-6) pushed across the go-ahead run in the bottom of the eighth on a wild pitch following a leadoff triple deep to center field by Daniel Shealy, but the Tornados broke through against Aaron Westbury in the ninth inning.

Hunter Donaldson coaxed a five-pitch walk and gave way to pinch runner Josh Hall. A double to left center by Joseph Mesi put two runners in scoring position before a walk by Kody Spencer loaded the bases with no outs. Ryan Smith then drove home the first run of the inning on an infield single that tied the score at 4-4 and left the bases loaded for Brayden Morris.

Morris wasted no time putting the Tornados ahead for good. The catcher rocketed the first pitch he saw to the shortstop, who attempted to start a 6-4-3 double play from deep in the hole and conceded Mesi’s go-ahead run. The second baseman’s throw was errant, however, allowing Spencer to score from second and giving Brevard a 6-4 lead with one out in the inning. The Tornados would push across an additional insurance run on an error by the third baseman before the Lions could record a third out.

Bennett Hixson, who was on the mound for the final two outs of the eighth inning, closed the door on Emmanuel in the ninth. The Lions loaded the bases, but Hixson struck out the fourth batter of the frame for the first out. An RBI groundout made the score 7-5, but Zach Gretsch ended the game with a ground ball to Caleb Sherman at second base as Hixson stranded the tying run on the basepaths to preserve the win.

Emmanuel’s comeback spoiled a solid outing from starting pitcher James Phillips, who scattered eight hits across 5.0 innings and gave up three runs. Tyler Konzen pitched an inning in relief, inducing a flyout before ending the frame with a pair of strikeouts. Chip Helton and Hixson then combined to pitch the final three innings. The best performance of the day, however, came from Emmanuel’s Derren McGibbon, who retired all nine Brevard hitters he faced before giving way to Alex Jordan to start the eighth inning.

The Tornados were outhit 10-8 in the contest but had seven different batters record base knocks and saw nine reach base safely. Mesi headlined the Brevard offense, going 2-for-4 with a run scored and an RBI. The fourth through eighth hitters in the lineup each recorded an RBI for Brevard. Daniel Shealy collected three hits in five plate appearances for the Lions, scoring two runs and knocking in two more.

Montreat travels to Gil Coan Field for a nonconference showdown on Wednesday afternoon before Brevard returns to conference play against Carson-Newman this weekend. First pitch between the Tornados and Cavaliers is scheduled for 2:00 p.m.

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