Wingate, N.C. - The Tornados suffered a pair of heartbreaking losses this afternoon in conference play against Wingate University. Brevard (15-19, 2-10 SAC) fell in game one, 3-2, after an hour long lightning delay, and held a 7-5 lead in the top of the eighth before succumbing to the Bulldogs (25-10-1, 10-2 SAC), 8-7.
Kasey Fagan led the Tornados offensively, going 3-6 with three RBIs, while hitting her team-leading third home run of the season.
Game 1: Wingate 3, Brevard 2
An hour long lightning delay was the only thing that could slow Tornados starter Jennifer Gift down in game one as she went five and a third innings, scattering seven hits while striking out six. Liz Houser (8-9) took the loss for Brevard, allowing one run in two-thirds of an inning of work. Brittany Blankenship (13-6) took the victory in game one, pitching all seven innings, allowing five hits while retiring seven Tornados on strikes.
Brevard got on the board in the top of the first inning as leadoff batter Beth Brooker was hit by a pitch. Kristina Clayton’s sacrifice bunt moved Brooker over to second. After Chelsi Mallory lined out to the second baseman, Kasey Fagan drove Blankenship’s offering over the right field wall, scoring Brooker and giving the Tornados an early 2-0 lead.
Julie Broyer cut the lead in half for the Bulldogs in the bottom of the third, hitting a solo home run over the left field fence with one out to bring Wingate back into the game. The following two batters, LaRonda McClain and Hallie Pettigrew reached on a walk and an infield single, but Gift retired Debra Grijalva on strikes and Katie Brown caught McClain trying to steal for the second time in the game with a perfect throw to Maddie Fletcher at third base to end the inning.
Weather played a factor late in the game as Gift retired Emily Chavis on a grounder to short to lead off the inning. With lightning in sight, the umpires pulled the teams from the field. After an hour passed, the teams were allowed back on the field and Gift surrendered a triple to the first batter she faced, Leyila Myers. Houser came into the game in relief of Gift and walked Jamie Millen to give the Bulldogs runners on first and second with one out. A single by Heather Winchester drove Myers home to tie the game. Wingate took the lead later on in the inning as McClain drew a bases-loaded two-out walk to score Millen from third to put the Bulldogs up 3-2.
The Tornados were unable to put a runner on base in the top of the seventh as Wingate took the first game.
Game 2: Wingate 8, Brevard 7 (8)
The bats were the story of the nightcap of the doubleheader as the teams combined for 26 hits and 15 runs against the four pitchers that threw in the game. Gift went one and a third innings to lead off the game for the Tornados before giving way to Houser. Houser went the remaining six innings, striking out two batters. Blankenship came in relief of starter Cristin Kelly with two outs in the top of the fourth and went the rest of the way in recording her second win of the day.
Fagan drove in a run in the top of the first for the Tornados, scoring Clayton on a two-out single up the middle to give Brevard the early lead.
Wingate came back in the second, scoring four as Myers, Winchester, Joya Wortham, and McClain all came around to score in an inning which saw the Bulldogs send all nine batters to the plate.
The Tornados retook the lead in the fourth, doing most of their damage with two outs. A double by Becca Curlee and singles by Katie Thornburg, Sarah Carlos and Clayton brought four runs across the plate to give Brevard a 5-4 lead.
The Bulldogs tied the game up in the bottom half of the seventh. Myers kept Wingate’s hopes alive in the game as she hit a two-out double down the left field line to score Jessica McCraw send the game into extra innings.
The Tornados offense came out swinging in the eighth as Katie Thornburg led off the inning with a double down the left field line, scoring Katie Brown from second. Jennifer Brown followed Thornburg with a double of her own, scoring Thornburg to give Brevard a commanding 7-5 lead.
Wingate came back in the eighth to win the game as five of the six batters in the inning reached base, ending with Chavis driving in Broyer with a single to left center to end the game.
Brevard’s next game is at home on Monday, April 13, as they host Carson-Newman College in conference play. First pitch for the Tornados and Eagles is scheduled for 1 p.m.