Joseph Marvin: Assistant Sports Information Director
BREVARD, N.C. – The Brevard College Tornados Baseball team (3-2) rallied to claim a 4-3 win against mountain foe Montreat College (3-1) in BC's home-opener on Thursday afternoon at Gil Coan Field.
Despite giving up three first-inning runs to the Cavaliers, Brevard settled in to shut out Montreat the rest of the way.
Bryce Foster (1-0, 4.09 ERA) settled down after a rocky first inning to turn in a quality start for the Tornados. Foster pitched six innings, allowing three earned runs (all coming in the first inning) on four hits, striking out five Cavaliers.
Freshman RHP Kyle Williams came in for Foster in relief, pitching around of one hit and a walk for a scoreless frame. Williams benefited from a key strikeout-throwout double play that erased a Montreat leadoff walk.
Freshman Alex Winchester (1-0, 0.00 ERA) earned his first collegiate win after pitching two shutout innings, striking out two Cavaliers batters. Winchester has yet to give up a run in 4.2 innings pitched in 2019.
Beau Shealy and Christian Ezzell sparked Brevard's offense with quality base running efforts. Both Shealy and Ezzell stole two bases each, while Jadon Wooten recorded the Tornados' other stolen base on the afternoon. Brevard now improves to 14-of-14 in stolen base attempts in 2019.
Shealy went 2-for-3 at the plate, scoring once in the third inning. Ezzell, who was the designated hitter, went 1-for-2, scoring twice.
Montreat came out of the gate firing, posting a quick three runs on Foster and the Tornados in the top half of the first inning. With two runners on base, Montreat third baseman Fenway Parks drilled a single to left-center, plating one run. Soon after, Aaron Takacs brought home Montreat's second run after a fielder's choice brought in Peyton Whitehead. After a walk and a Takacs stolen base, Montreat brought its third run of the inning home on an RBI single.
This frame would prove to be the only time Montreat's offense would strike, as the Cavaliers were held to just three hits in the last eight innings total.
Brevard started to chip away at Montreat's 3-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning. Wooten led things off with a single to center field, which was followed by a Shealy bunt-single.
Wooten and Shealy then executed a double-steal to put pressure on Montreat starting pitcher Jonathon Sylvester.
A Ryan Roon groundout brought Wooten home for Brevard's first run, cutting Montreat's lead to 3-1. However, Sylvester limited the damage, using a strikeout and a groundout to escape the first inning with limited damage.
Shealy used more savvy base running to help Brevard chip away even further at Montreat's advantage. After reaching base via a one-out walk, Shealy advanced to second on a passed ball, took third on a flyout, and scored on Wilkes' first hit of the afternoon to trim Montreat's lead to 3-2.
Montreat starter Sylvester was taken out after Brevard's third-inning rally, giving way to Clem Marsilia. Marsilia went the rest of the contest for Montreat (five innings), giving up two runs (one earned) on four hits, striking out one Tornado in the process.
The Tornados would square the score up in the bottom half of the sixth inning, as Ezzell got the BC rally started with a one-out single. Kelley followed it up with a single of his own, putting runners on first and second with one out.
Jason Jucker was able to advance Ezzell to third on a deep lineout to right field, leaving runners on the corners with two outs.
After an errant throw by Montreat catcher Evan Dolan, Ezzell crossed home to tie things up at 3-3. Wooten grounded out, stranding Kelley at first.
Williams relieved Foster in the top of the seventh inning after six innings of work, which included five-straight shutout innings. A leadoff walk was neutralized when Williams recorded a strikeout, followed by Kelley catching Montreat third baseman Parks stealing second. A Whitehead flyout sent the action to the bottom of the seventh.
After the Tornados stranded a runner in the bottom of the seventh, Winchester came on looking to hold the Cavaliers at bay. The local freshman RHP from nearby Swannanoa, N.C. would do just that, using two big strikeouts to strand a Montreat runner on third base.
Ezzell took one for the team, as he got hit by a pitch with one out to give Brevard a spark. Although Kelley struck out looking, Ezzell was able to swipe his second base of the afternoon to put a runner in scoring position with two outs.
Ball four to Jucker on the next at-bat was a wild pitch that moved Ezzell up to third base, giving Wooten runners on the corners with two outs.
Ezzell was able to bring himself home as a pitch got away from Marsilia, plating the go-ahead run for Brevard. The Tornados took a slim 4-3 lead into the game's final inning.
Winchester continued his impressive work, forcing a lineout to left field, a fly out to right field, and a popup that Wilkes came in to grab to retire the Cavaliers 1-2-3, securing his first collegiate winning decision.
Brevard will look to build upon this momentum as it welcomes NCCAA member-institute Toccoa Falls College (3-3) on Saturday for a doubleheader at Gil Coan Field. First pitch for game one is set for 12 p.m., with the second game following shortly after at 3 p.m.
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