Joseph Marvin: Assistant Sports Information Director
BREVARD, N.C. – The Brevard College Tornados Baseball team (4-9) earned a hard-fought 3-2 victory over the Emory & Henry Wasps (2-8) in a midweek non-conference test at Gil Coan Field.
Senior Michael Merryman (1-1, 3.07 ERA) paced the Tornados with a superb outing. The Cary, N.C. native pitched seven innings, giving up one run on five hits. Merryman struck out seven batters, tying his BC career-high that was set on February 10 at William Peace.
The Tornados backed up Merryman's work in the bottom of the seventh inning, scoring three game-deciding runs to give Brevard's bullpen enough to work with to finish the job.
Freshman RHP Bryce Bowers came on in relief in the top of the eighth inning, earning his first collegiate save after shutting down the Wasps. Bowers pitched two frames, giving up a hit and a run, which was unearned, and struck out back-to-back batters to clinch the game for Brevard.
Matthew Kelley and Holden Lanier sparked Brevard's rally in the seventh inning. Kelley went 1-for-3 with a huge 2-RBI double, while Lanier plated the Tornados' third run on an RBI single up the middle. Donny Carsillo recorded a double for the Tornados as well.
Merryman took the mound for the Tornados in the top of the first inning, setting down the Wasps 1-2-3 to start the game. Brevard followed suit in the bottom of the first with a two-out rally, however, JJ Wilkes was stranded in scoring position.
Emory & Henry picked up its first hit in the top of the second but were held in check as Merryman retired two batters in a row after the Wasps' one-out single.
Merryman was able to escape another jam unscathed in the top of the third when Lukas Hart singled on a bunt, advanced to second on a groundout, and went to third on a passed ball. The Tornados' starter kept composure, forcing a groundout to Zach Wolfe to end the threat.
An Emory & Henry leadoff double proved rewarding in the top of the fourth as the Wasps broke the scoreless tie, 1-0. The Wasps weren't done, loading the bases with just one out. Brevard's defense came through in the clutch, as a 4-6-3 ground ball double play ended the top of the fourth.
Merryman finished his outing by retiring nine of the next batters as the Tornado offense went to work in the bottom of the seventh down 1-0.
Kelley roped a two-RBI double into left-center field past the reach of EHU left fielder Logan Forster to give Brevard its first lead, 2-1. Lanier followed this with an RBI single up the middle to plate Kelley, providing the Tornados with a crucial insurance run. Brevard went into the top of the eighth with a 3-1 lead.
Back-to-back Tornado errors followed by an Emory & Henry RBI double cut BC's lead to 3-2, but Bowers was able to limit the damage. Bowers knocked down a grounder back to the mound, recovered, and fired a strike to Wilkes to end the Wasps' threat.
Carsillo hit a one-out double in the bottom half of the eighth inning, but Brevard couldn't bring the sophomore home. The contest moved to the top of the ninth with the Tornados holding a slim 3-2 advantage.
Bowers overcame BC's third error in two innings, striking out the final two Emory & Henry batters to clinch the 3-2 victory, earning his first collegiate save in the process.
The victory marked Brevard's fourth win of the 2019 campaign and snapped a seven-game slide. Wednesday's nine-inning contest was fast-paced, taking just an hour and 56 minutes to complete.
The Tornados will hit the road for a USA South Conference series at Maryville College this weekend, weather pending. The series is currently slated to begin on Friday, March 8 at 7 p.m., with a doubleheader set to follow on Saturday, March 8 at 1 & 4 p.m.
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