MOUNT BERRY, Ga.—Transylvania University's baseball team overcame a late rally from the Berry College Vikings with a four run ninth inning to win 11-8. After leading for much of the game, the Pioneers relinquished the lead in the bottom of the 8th before retaking it in the top of the 9th to seal the victory.
After winning the matchup against Berry last night, Transy wasted no time getting back in the driver's seat on Sunday, taking a 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning. Senior outfielder Hunter Voshell reached first base as the leadoff batter when the Berry shortstop booted a groundball. He stole second base during the next at bat before junior outfielder Hunter Jones ripped a ball down the left field line, bringing Voshell home to score. Jones was thrown out trying to stretch the hit into a double before the next two Pioneer batters went down to end the opening frame.
Berry responded with a three-run bottom of the first after two of the first three batters recorded singles before the cleanup hitter pulled a ball over the left field fence for a three-run homer. After the inning ended, Transylvania trailed 3-1.
The Pioneers bounced back in the top of the third inning to take the lead. With one out, a string of six straight Transylvania batters reached base, kicked started by a single from freshman shortstop Jared Williams. Following Williams, Voshell, Jones and junior outfielder Trey Simpson each singled, with Jones and Simpson picking up RBIs. Junior second baseman Kody Ross drew a walk and senior third baseman Nick Edwards singled, picking up two RBIs. After Edwards was picked off, sophomore outfielder Connor Blevins struck out to end the rally with Transy on top, 5-3.
After a rocky first inning, the Pioneers' starting pitcher, sophomore Braden Johnson settled in, holding Berry scoreless over the next 4.2 innings of work. He found himself in trouble in the fourth inning but was able to wiggle his way out of a two-out jam when he got the Viking two-hole hitter to fly out to left field.
In the bottom of the sixth, Johnson gave up a leadoff single before getting a fly out and fielder's choice to give Transylvania two outs with a runner on first. After the Berry baserunner stole second base, Johnson hit the Viking batter, ending his outing. Sophomore pitcher Bryce Crader came in from the bullpen and got the hitter to fly out weakly to right field, ending the Berry threat.
Head coach Chris Campbell was pleased with the efforts of Johnson, Crader and the rest of the bullpen, noting, "Braden made good adjustments after the first inning to get us deep into the game and our pen threw well despite not getting great results."
Transylvania added to its lead in the top of the 7th after sophomore catcher Gage Beavers led off the inning with a walk. Williams recorded a sac bunt to move Beavers to second and after a groundout from Voshell, the runner moved to third with two outs. Jones stepped to the plate and was hit by a pitch to put two runners on. Simpson came to the box and drove a ball to deep right center, where it bounced out of the outfielder's glove, allowing both runners to score.
Entering the bottom of the eighth, Transylvania held onto a 7-3 lead but Berry rallied after Crader gave up a leadoff single before balking the runner to second base. After a steal put the runner on third with no outs, an error by Williams brought the run in to score. The momentum built for Berry in the inning and after two hits and several walks, the Vikings had retaken the lead 9-8.
The Pioneers got back on the board quickly in the top of the 9th to get on top. Freshman catcher Blake Hart was hit by a pitch and pinch runner Aaron Johnson stole second base. A single from Williams brought Johnson home and the Pioneers tied the game. Voshell drew a walk and Jones was hit by a pitch to load the bases with no outs. Simpson walked to force the go ahead run home before Edwards singled to right center to bring two more Transy runs home.
In the bottom of the ninth, junior pitcher Kameron Schwartz gave up one unearned run but struck out one and forced two softly hit groundballs to end the game and give the Pioneers their second win on the weekend.
"It was an excellent win for our club. We fought through adversity and found a way to grit out a victory," Campbell said. "This can define who wer are as a club and I'm excited to see us fight like we did. This can set the tone for the rest of the season."
At the dish, five Pioneers recorded two hits: Voshell, Jones, Simpson, Edwards and Williams, while Edwards led the charge, bringing in four RBIs. On the mound, Schwartz picked up the win out of the pen while Johnson, went 5.2 innings of three-run baseball, striking out one.
Transylvania (2-3) will take on Centre College at UC Healthcare Stadium in Florence, Ky. on Wednesday before playing their home opener next weekend against John Carroll.