TIGERVILLE, S.C. – Despite giving up three unanswered runs in the eighth and ninth innings which forced extra innings, Anderson University baseball held off in-state rival North Greenville in 11 innings with a 7-4 victory in nonconference action Wednesday night at NGU’s Ashmore Field.
With the victory, the Trojans have strung together three straight triumphs and improved to 14-23 for the season, with South Atlantic Conference play returning this weekend. The Crusaders stumble to 7-26, as NGU dropped the season-long three-game series to Anderson, with its only win of the series coming on March 25 at Ashmore Field.
AU’s offense was led by leadoff hitter Kyle Bailey with three hits, including his second straight leadoff home run against the Crusaders as he jumped on the seventh pitch he saw for his fifth homer of the year. In Anderson’s last meeting against the Crusaders, Bailey sent the first pitch of the game over the wall to hand the Trojans an early lead. This time, Anderson took a 2-0 lead into the bottom-half of the first inning when senior Jonathan Zalud walked with the bases loaded.
Following Bailey in the hit category was the middle of the order consisting of sophomore first baseman Steven Cooper and senior outfielder Nathan Galliford. Cooper connected on his second home run in as many games in the seventh inning for Anderson’s final run until the 11th inning. For Cooper, the homer was his seventh of the season with all the round trippers coming in his last 14 games.
Galliford recorded two singles on the night to go along with a run scored. For the season, the senior is slugging .597.
Senior catcher Ben Pendleton also posted two hits for the night as he increased his hitting streak to four straight games, while tallying multi-hits in his last three contests. For the campaign, Pendleton is hitting .389 with a hit in all but two appearances.
Junior middle infielder Brett Cash added a first inning single as the Anderson native has recorded a hit in nine of his last 10 games.
On the hill, right-hander Spencer Earle tossed 7.1 innings and struck out eight Crusaders in the no-decision. The eight punch-outs matched his season-high which he set on Feb. 28 against SAC foe Coker.
Junior right-hander Evan Jordan relieved Earle in the seventh and closed the inning with back-to-back strikeouts. Classmate Landon Beck tried for the save opportunity in the ninth inning, but a one-out, solo home run by NGU’s Tyler Mitchell knotted the score at 4-4 and sent the game into extra innings. Beck finished the inning with two strikeouts.
Senior right-hander Will Walls pitched the extra frames and earned his first victory of the season, not allowing a hit in the two innings of work and notching one strikeout. Walls faced the minimum, while forcing three ground ball outs.
In the 11th inning, the Trojans took advantage of four walks and an error to score three runs and seal the victory. Anderson notched just two hits for the inning and scored two insurance runs on bases loaded walks.
AU looks to continue its winning ways this weekend when it welcomes Lenoir-Rhyne to Anderson Memorial Stadium for a three-game series beginning on Friday at 6 p.m. The series is scheduled to wrap up on Saturday with a doubleheader beginning at 1 p.m.