BREVARD, N.C.— A pair of ninth inning Piedmont runs proved to be the difference as Piedmont took the first game of a three-game series with the Tornados at Gil Coan Field in Friday afternoon baseball action.
Clinging to a 3-2 lead entering the final frame, Piedmont (15-8) used a single to right centerfield by Fowler Brooks to extend the inning. Caleb Norton followed with a single to short, moving pinch runner Wes Snyder to second, before the pair advanced one base on a passed ball.
Jabin Smith singled back to the pitcher, scoring Snyder from third, and quickly moved into scoring position following a stolen base. Justin Groover reached on a throwing error at third by Jonte Wilkes, allowing Norton to give the Lions a 5-2 advantage in the process.
Brevard began its rally in the home half of the ninth when Mikey Mejias and Drake Black reached base with back-to-back singles. Donny Carsillo loaded the bases after being hit by a pitch and Tyler Petit singled through the right side of the infield to plate Mejias for the third Tornado run.
Jadon Wooten grounded into a controversial double play, which scored Black from third, as Brevard pulled within one run of the Lions. The double play drew an argument from Tornado head coach Sean Walsh, who was ejected, and the rally ended when Wilkes flied out to centerfield for the final out of the game.
Piedmont's Sam Carpenter (5-1) picked up the win after scattering seven hits and two runs, both earned, over 7.2 innings on the mound. He faced 27 Brevard batters and tallied seven strikeouts on the afternoon. Buddy Green picked up his second save of the season after taking over pitching duties in the ninth from Matt Vonderschmidt, surrendering three hits, two runs and two walks.
Smith led the Lion lineup at the plate by going 3-for-4 with two RBI and one run scored, hitting a home run in the process. He was one of three Piedmont batters with multiple hits, including Brady Ballstadt (2-4, run) and Norton (2-4, run).
Brevard's lineup was highlighted by the tandem of Black, who finished 3-for-4 with two RBI, and Matthew Mejias, who finished 2-for-3 with one run and one RBI.
Tyler Timms tossed a complete game for the Tornados, allowing five runs, two earned runs and 10 hits. Timms finished the game with nine strikeouts and one walk.
Piedmont put two runs on the board in the first inning, including a home run that ricocheted off the top of the right field scoreboard by Smith. Groover followed that with a double down the left field line, advancing to third on a bobble. Ballstadt had the third straight hit of the game, a single up the middle, to bring home Groover for the 2-0 advantage.
The two teams remained separated by two runs until the bottom of the fifth when Black led off the frame with a single through the left side of the infield. Matthew Mejias lifted a double to left, scoring Black from third, to slice the Lions' lead in half.
Eddie Mattocks laid down a sacrifice bunt, moving Mejias to third, before a sacrifice fly to left by Wooten tied the game.
Piedmont answered with one run in the sixth after a single to center and stolen base by Ballstadt put him into scoring position. Andrew Burden's fly to center field put the go-ahead run 90-feet away as Noah Heatherly delivered a single through the left side of the infield to forge the Lions in front 3-2.
The series continues on Saturday when the two teams return to action at Gil Coan Field for a 3 p.m. start.