Birmingham, AL – A day after an 8-0 setback against the nationally-ranked number eight team in the nation, the Transylvania baseball team took the Birmingham-Southern Panthers to the brink before falling 2-1 off of a sacrifice fly-RBI in the bottom of the ninth inning.
The Pioneers responded firmly to the Panthers in their Sunday rematch, just hours after an 8-0 defeat in the nightcap of Transylvania's opening day. Transylvania grinded out a defensive affair with the Panthers, whose only earned run of the day off of the Pioneers came in the bottom of the ninth on the game-winning sacrifice fly by Taylor McCracken which drove in Brayden Housel from third.
The host Panthers struck first in the bottom of the first inning on an error by the Pioneers; with Taylor McCracken on at second, a throwing error by Rex Rogers from third allowed McCracken to come home, giving Birmingham-Southern a 1-0 lead.
Transylvania quickly responded in the top of the second as the Pioneers scored an unearned run of their own. With Kody Ross on board at third base and Rex Rogers on second, the Pioneers took advantage of an overthrow by Panthers third baseman Jacob Drescher as Rogers came home safely to knot the game at one.
From there, the scoreboard displayed goose eggs for the next seven innings until Birmingham produced the game-winning run in the bottom of the ninth.
After five-plus innings of four-hit, zero-run ball by Johnson, the Panthers began the ninth inning with two straight singles, led off by Nathan Qualls's single, who was then replaced by Housel to pinch-run. Rich Misischia followed Qualls's hit with a single through the left side, pushing Housel to second. David Scott then advanced both runners to second and third with a sacrifice bunt for the first out of the bottom of the ninth.
After Johnson walked Jack Rhodes to load the bases, Taylor McCracken sprouted a fly ball to centerfield, allowing Housel to tag up and score from third for the game-winning run and the 2-1 result.
Transylvania crafted a superb defensive outing but mustered three hits against Kyle Royalty in seven innings of work. The Pioneers found more success against reliever Jake Cook over the final two innings, collecting three hits against him. The Pioneers' best chance to take the lead late in the contest came in the top of the ninth inning when Ross led off with a single, and advanced to third after a one-out base hit by Blake Hart. But an inning-ending double play on a groundout by Cameron Lord brought the inning to a swift close and the Panthers pounced in the bottom of the frame to end the day.
Hunter Jones and Rex Rogers led the Pioneers offensively, going 2-for-4 and 2-for-3, respectively for the afternoon. Johnson tallied three walks and two strikeouts in his 5.2 innings of work while Schwartz notched two strikeouts in his first start of the season.
The Pioneers dropped to 1-2 after taking on a top-10 team twice in their first two games of the year. The Pioneers next visit archrival Centre on Tuesday, March 1 for a chance to rebound.
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