Pioneers baseball loses to No. 18 Birmingham-Southern

Pioneers baseball loses to No. 18 Birmingham-Southern

BIRMINGHAM, Ala.—The Transylvania University baseball team dropped its second game of the weekend, a matchup against the No. 18 Birmingham-Southern College Panthers on Sunday. The Pioneers struck first in the top half of the opening frame but after relenting the lead in the bottom half, were unable to regain control of the game.

 Junior outfielder Trey Simpson led off the game with a bunt single and was promptly moved to second base when junior outfielder Hunter Jones laid down a sacrifice bunt. Senior third baseman Nicky Edwards stepped to the plate with one out and delivered an RBI single on a line drive to left center.

In the bottom half of the first, Birmingham-Southern scored four runs. The Panthers' leadoff hitter delivered a two-strike single and was moved to second with a sacrifice bunt. After an RBI double scored the runner, senior pitcher Jamie King picked up a strikeout to give the Pioneers two outs in the inning. After an error allowed the next batter to reach base, the fifth BSC hitter of the inning singled through the right side to make the score 2-1. The next batter singled to right field, bringing home one run and a throwing error allowed a second run to score before the third out was made.

After the first inning, Transy trailed 4-1, where the score would stay until the Pioneers fought back in the top of the third inning. Senior outfielder Hunter Voshell drew a leadoff walk and Simpson picked up his second hit on the afternoon with a double to right center, putting runners on second and third with no outs. Jones hit a groundball to the right side, bringing Voshell in to score and making the game 4-2. Edwards drove a ball into deep right center for a sacrifice fly and allowing Simpson to tag up and score Transylvania's third run of the game.

BSC responded with a two-run third as well in the bottom half. Despite only allowing two hits in the inning, a passed ball and wild pitch moved runners into scoring position and allowed the Panthers to extend their lead back to three at 6-3.

Transy clawed back in the top of the fifth inning with a two-run rally of their own, kicked off by a leadoff walk from freshman catcher Blake Hart. After a fly out, Hart advanced to second on a wild pitch and after another single from Simpson moved him to third, a sacrifice fly from Jones brought home the Pioneers' fourth run of the afternoon. Simpson stole second during the next at bat to move into scoring position and Edwards delivered a clutch two-out single to allow Simpson to score. After the half, the Pioneers trailed by a score of just 6-5.

Sophomore Braden Johnson entered the game to pitch in the bottom of the fifth and held the Panther offense at bay for two innings until the seventh inning. After striking out the leadoff batter in the seventh, Johnson allowed a walk, an infield single and a hit batter to load the basses with one out. Johnson bunkered down and delivered another strikeout and looked to get out of the inning unscathed until a two out error at third base allowed Birmingham-Southern to extend their lead to 7-5.

The Panthers extended their lead in the bottom of the eighth after a one-out single and hit batter put two runners on with one out. Another error from the Pioneer defense allowed one run to score and put runners on first and third and after BSC recorded a single to bring home a second run, Johnson was replaced on the mound by sophomore Bryce Crader. Crader picked off the runner at first before delivering a pitch and struck out the next batter to end the inning.

The Pioneers trailed 9-5 entering the top of the ninth and were unable to put anything together offensively. Sophomore outfielder Connor Blevins grounded out to the pitcher, freshman shortstop Jared Williams struck out and Voshell grounded out to the shortstop to end the game.

Simpson picked up three of the Pioneers' six hits on the afternoon and Edwards had two. Junior infielder Kody Ross added a single as the only other Pioneer to record a hit. Edwards led the way for Transylvania, picking up three RBIs and Jones added two RBIs of his own. On the mound, King picked up the loss, going 4 innings and giving up six runs (three earned) on six hits and tallying three strikeouts. Johnson went 3.1 innings in relief, allowing three runs (two earned) with three strikeouts and a walk.

"We didn't take care of the baseball today and it caught up with us. If we limit the free bases we gave up, we win the game," said head coach Chris Campbell. "I feel like we are swinging the bats fine, we just don't have a lot to show for it. We have a solid foundation to build on and even though we came out on the losing end, we have a lot to look forward to in 2015."

Transylvania falls to 0-2 with the loss, both coming against nationally ranked opponents. The Pioneers will return to action next weekend when they play host to Ohio Wesleyan at Marquard Field on March 1. The doubleheader is slated to being at 12:00 p.m.