Due West, S.C. - A six run eighth inning by host Erskine College marred two-hit performances by Eric Renegar, Randy O’Dell and Whit Bowen as the Tornados fell in their 2012 baseball season opener on Tuesday afternoon at Grier Field, 11-8.
Bowen singled in a run and John Slade drove in two runs with a triple in the bottom of the ninth as Brevard (0-1) attempted to come from behind to force the game into extra innings, but paced by Josh Purvis’ two-run single and Will Huff’s three-run home run in the bottom of the eighth, Erskine (1-1) was able to hold on to their first win of the season.
The Tornados struck in the top of the first as O’Dell drove in fellow senior Tarron Robinson with a two-out single off Erskine starter Kevin Cantrell to give BC starter Tyler Lequire the early lead in the contest.
Brevard added two in the top of the fifth as O’Dell drove in Chad Funkhouser with a sacrifice fly to right field. Kramer Clark followed with a base hit, moving Robinson to second, and the base runners advanced on a wild pitch, with Robinson scoring from second base on an error by the Erskine catcher to put BC up 3-0 midway through the contest.
The Flying Fleet finally touched Lequire in the fifth inning as Chase Horn spoiled the freshman’s three-hitter by lofting a ball over the fence, scoring Cody Spence from first to put Erskine on the board. Logan Galliher and Drew Willingham followed with back-to-back doubles to knot the game up at 3 apiece before Lequire set Purvis down on strikes to end the inning.
Funkhouser put the Tornados back in the driver’s seat in the top of the sixth driving in Kameron Armacost, but Erskine followed with a pair of runs off BC reliever Alex Litaker in the bottom half of the inning as McCarthy drove in Huff with a base hit and Galliher was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded to put Erskine ahead 5-4, before Thomas Gill retired the side to end the threat.
Brevard battled back in the top of the eighth as Renegar drilled a ball into the gap with two outs off of Evan Howard, rounding the bases for the triple before alertly scoring when the shortstop mishandled the relay to tie the game back up, heading into the bottom half of the inning.
Erskine loaded the bases with one out as Corn reached on a single and Galliher and Willingham drew walks, setting the stage for Purvis’ single and Huff’s home run. Jonathan Bethea came in to close out the inning retiring Zac McCarthy on strikes and forcing a Herring popup to the catcher, but the Flying Fleet held the 11-5 lead heading into the top of the ninth.
Erskine reliever Kit Carter retired the first two Tornado batters on fly balls, but Brevard kept the contest alive with two outs as Zach Merriken drilled a single to left field and Hixson followed with a double to give the Tornados runners on second and third. Bowen kept the rally alive with an RBI single and Slade followed with a triple driving in Hixson and Bowen to put the score at 11-8, but the comeback fell short as Carter retired the final BC hitter to end the contest.
Renegar, Funkhouser and Slade all hit triples in their 2012 season debuts, while Hixson added a double, as well as throwing out two would-be base stealers on the defensive end. O’Dell and Slade both drove in a pair of runs for the Tornados, while Robinson crossed the plate twice for Brevard in his BC debut.
Brevard remains on the road as they travel to Misenheimer, N.C. to take on Pfeiffer University on Wednesday, February 8th. First pitch between the Tornados and the Falcons at Joseph S. Ferebee Field is set for 2 p.m.