Brevard, N.C. - The Tornados swept a doubleheader against visiting Belmont Abbey, 3-2 and 11-1 on Thursday afternoon. With the pair of wins, Brevard improves to 8-2 for the season, while the Crusaders fall to 3-13.
In the first game a two-out single by Kristina Clayton in the bottom of the fourth drove home the winning runs for Coach Britne Stubbs team, while an offensive explosion led by Clayton’s 3-3 performance led the Tornados to victory in game two.
Game 1: Brevard 3, Belmont Abbey 2
Jennifer Gift (3-2) pitched the Tornados to victory in game one, surrendering two runs in the top of the first inning, before settling down to hold the Crusaders scoreless the remainder of the game. Gift struck out four batters for the day, scattering eight hits in her third victory of the season. Kayla Short took the loss for the Crusaders, giving up six hits, while striking out five.
Belmont Abbey struck in the top of the first. Gina Antonucci opened the game with a single that dropped just off the infield dirt in right field. A double by Katie Hobbs moved Antonucci to third, where she scored on Dani Beres’ sacrifice fly. Short drove in the Hobbs later in the inning with a sacrifice fly to right as the Crusaders jumped out to an early 2-0 lead.
Brevard threatened in both the second and the third innings, putting two runners on in each, but were unable to push across a run as Short retired Kasey Fagan and Beth Brooker on grounders to second to end each inning.
The Tornados took the lead in the bottom of the fourth. Katie Thornburg opened the inning with a single. After Jennifer Brown went down on strikes, Katie Brown hammered a double over the left fielder’s head, scoring Thornburg from first. Short loaded the bases on walks, leading way to Clayton’s heroics as she drove a single to left field, scoring Katie Brown and Maddie Fletcher to give the Tornados a 3-2 lead.
Belmont Abbey had one final chance to tie the game as the Crusaders loaded the bases in the top of the sixth, but Gift was able to get Danielle Devlin to hit a grounder up the middle that Thornburg was able to stop and toss to Clayton for the force out to end the chance as the Tornados hung on for the 3-2 victory.
Game 2: Brevard 11, Belmont Abbey 1 (5)
The Tornados pushed across runs in each inning, paving the way to Liz Houser’s fifth win of the season. Houser (5-0) gave up five hits in the five innings, allowing one run while striking out a season high seven in her third start at home in the 2009 season. Danielle Puckett took the loss for the Crusaders, giving up 11 runs, nine earned, in three innings work.
Houser was on early, striking out five in the first two innings as the Tornados opened the game scoring a run in each of the first two frames. Clayton scored in the first on a wild pitch after getting on base with a double over the left fielder’s head, and Katie Brown scored on a wild pitch in the second as the Tornados staked Houser to a 2-0 lead.
Belmont Abbey came back with a run in the top of the third. A two-out seeing-eye single up the middle by Tara Ruebel drove home Antonucci as the Crusaders brought the game back to 2-1.
The Tornados ended any thought of a comeback though as they scored three in the bottom of the inning as Clayton again scored on a wild pitch, before the strangest play of the game transpired.
With two on and one out, Brooker hit a weak grounder in the infield and the Crusaders attempted to cut Jennifer Brown at the plate, but the junior third baseman was able to slide in just in front of the tag. Brooker, sensing an opportunity, attempted to go to second on the play, but became caught in a rundown as catcher Alysia Stewart made the throw to the centerfielder covering the bag. The Belmont Abbey infielders became so fixated on Brooker, they lost track of Thornburg, who scored from second without drawing a throw.
The Tornados finished the game with a six-run inning in the bottom of the fourth as the Brevard offense dropped three sacrifice bunts in the inning, only to see all three batters reach base on their way to batting around to give Houser an 11-1 lead.
A single by Hobbs was all the Crusaders were able to muster in the top of the fifth as Houser closed out the game.
Brevard is back in action tomorrow afternoon as they host Limestone College. The Saints, coming in with a 3-12 record at the time of this article, were a late addition to the Tornados schedule. The Tornados and Saints will take the field at 2:30 p.m. Belmont Abbey stays on the road as they take on Anderson on March 7th with game time set for 1 p.m.