Big seventh inning propels Erskine to victory

Box Score

BREVARD, N.C. – An eight-run seventh inning proved to be Brevard’s undoing as the Tornados fell 15-1 to visiting Erskine on Wednesday at Gil Coan Field.

The Flying Fleet (30-10) entered the contest ranked No. 6 in the latest NCBWA Southeast Region poll and were receiving votes in the national poll. The Fleet were ranked No. 14 nationally when they needed extra innings to score a walk-off victory in Due West, South Carolina on March 11. But Erskine sent 11 men to the plate in a disastrous seventh inning for Brevard, scoring eight times on seven hits and punctuating the frame with back-to-back two-out home runs.

Brevard (17-23) trailed 3-1 entering the seventh in what appeared to be shaping up as a hard-fought pitcher’s duel. The Fleet took a 3-0 lead in the third inning courtesy of a two-run double and an RBI groundout by shortstop Brandon Overstreet and second baseman Joey Wilson, respectively.

Brevard bounced back with a two-out rally in the bottom of the inning that began with John Slade. The senior, starting at third base for just the fifth time this season, slapped a single to the shortstop and scurried to second base courtesy of a throwing error on the play. Christian Dix smacked an RBI single up the middle on the next pitch to trim the deficit to two runs.

Dix raised his average to a team-high .350 with a 2-for-5 performance on the afternoon, while Slade tallied multiple hits for the 14th time this season. Slade has now hit safely in 12 of his last 13 games dating back to March 21 and is batting .444 (24-for-54) in that span.

Brock Helton also collected multiple hits on the day, going 2-for-2 with two walks in four official plate appearances. He was erased from the basepaths on fielder’s choices all four times he reached. Brayden Morris was the fourth Tornado to record multiple hits on the day, going 2-for-4 with a single and a double.

Catcher Hanlon Maivelett was the offensive star for an Erskine squad that scored the most runs Brevard has allowed all season and pounded out 17 hits, including 12 over the final three innings. Maivelett went 4-for-5 with an RBI and three runs scored. He led off the seventh with a first-pitch double to left field and provided the final fireworks of the inning with a solo shot to left that came on an 0-2 count.

Ironically, the only starter for the Fleet that did not record a hit was designated hitter Destin Nichols, although he did drive in a run with a seventh-inning sacrifice fly. All told, 10 different Erskine players reached on a hit with eight recording at least one RBI. The Fleet did not strike out until the final out of the ninth inning, while Brevard players also exhibited good plate discipline by going down on strikes just four times.

The Tornados travel to Tusculum for the final conference series of the season on Friday and Saturday. The Pioneers are currently second in the conference with a league slate of 16-7, while Brevard is eighth at 11-15 and in position to secure the final bid to the South Atlantic Conference Tournament. The Tornados and Wingate, however, are the only teams with three conference games remaining, while all other league schools have six or more games to play.

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