Stellar defense leads Brevard to series win over Mars Hill

BREVARD, N.C. – Brevard earned a series win with a doubleheader split against visiting Mars Hill on Saturday, falling 11-6 in the first contest before the Tornados’ defense sparked a 4-2 Brevard win in the second game of the day.

Brevard (9-11, 5-9 SAC) led 4-2 in the top of the seventh and final inning, with pinch hitter Alex Zachary on second and the Lions’ (3-10, 1-8 SAC) best hitter in Evan Rogers at the plate with two outs. Rogers, who raised his average 28 percentage points to an even .400 with a 4-for-7 day at the plate, lifted a 2-2 offering from Tyler Konzen deep to left field. Josh Hall sprinted back to the wall and leapt, robbing Rogers of a game-tying home run and preserving the dramatic win for the Tornados.

Hall provided the most flashy play of the afternoon, but Brevard’s defense carried the day in the second game. Brevard threw out a runner at the plate on a squeeze attempt in the second, escaped a bases-loaded jam in the fourth with an inning-ending 5-4-3 double play, and caught three Lions’ baserunners attempting to steal.

The stellar defensive plays helped Brevard win despite trailing 7-6 in the hits column. Zac Joyce earned his first win of the season with five strong innings of work, allowing six hits and both Mars Hill runs while tallying six strikeouts. Konzen earned his second save in as many days, this time limiting the Lions to a single hit in two innings on the mound.

Mars Hill got on the board in the top of the first inning, taking advantage of a fielding error on a bunt attempt to score an unearned run and grab an early 1-0 lead. Brevard answered with a pair of unearned runs in the bottom of the frame, including the go-ahead run on a Pat Quinn bunt to the pitcher with runners on the corner to score Hunter Donaldson.

Brevard tacked on a pair of important insurance runs in the third with RBI singles from Quinn and Kody Spencer and nearly got a third run in the inning. Spencer’s single through the left side came with two runners in scoring position and two outs, and Quinn attempted to come home and score. Mars Hill’s Ray Carolina made a perfect throw home to prevent Quinn from crossing the plate, and Mars Hill limited the damage to two runs.

The Lions took control of the first game with a four-run outburst in the sixth inning to break a 6-6 tie. The Lions took advantage of a dropped fly ball in center field to hand Teke Scudder the loss as the reliever surrendered all four runs in the frame. The big blows in the inning came two pitches apart with two outs, as a two-run single by Dalton Eisenbath immediately preceded a two-run double by Phillip Carroll to plate four unearned runs.

Scudder was the hard-luck loser in the first game, running his record on the season to 0-1 despite not allowing an earned run in his 1.1 innings on the mound. Nick Villalobos earned the win for the Lions after pitching 7.2 scoreless innings in Friday’s 5-3 Brevard victory.

The Lions wasted no time in getting to Brevard starter J.D. Chaplain, scoring a run in the first on two singles, a double steal, and an RBI groundout to the right side of the infield to take a 1-0 lead. Mars Hil increased its lead to 4-0 an inning later on an RBI double by Lance Edwards and a two-run triple by Evan Rogers.

The Tornados landed a significant counterpunch in the bottom of the second, however, with three of the first four batters reaching on singles. With one run already in, Brock Helton strode to the plate and lifted a 2-0 offering from Mars Hill starter Hunter Boydston deep to left field, ricocheting off the roof of the batting cages in left field to tie the game at four.

Designated hitter Joseph Mesi repeated the feat an inning later, crushing a pitch to nearly the same spot to give Brevard a 5-4 lead. The Lions then retook the lead on another home run to continue the see-saw affair.

The Tornados return to action with a home game Tuesday against Emmanuel in nonconference action. First pitch is scheduled for 2:00 p.m.

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