HARROGATE, Tenn. – Despite suffering an 8-6 setback in the opening game, Anderson University baseball held off a furious seventh-inning rally with a 15-13 marathon victory, claiming its first series win over Lincoln Memorial since joining the South Atlantic Conference in 2011 Saturday afternoon at LMU’s Hennon Field.
With the split, the Trojans move to 18-26 on the season and an even 13-13 mark in the SAC heading into the final week of the conference schedule next weekend. The Railsplitters, who entered the weekend in first place of the league standings, jumped to 25-14-1 overall and 15-7 for the conference.
Leading the AU attack was senior left fielder Nate Galliford with six hits for both games, including blasting two home runs in the opening game of the day, increasing his conference-leading total to 15 for the season. The senior finished 3-for-5 with five RBI and two runs scored in the first game, and followed the career day with a 3-for-4 game with two runs scored and a double.
Classmate Jonathan Zalud recorded five hits on the day, following a 4-for-4 performance in the opening game of the series on Friday. For the series, Zalud went 9-for-13 (.692) with three doubles, two RBI and five runs scored.
Breaking the game wide open early on in the second game of the day, junior shortstop Brett Cash blasted his first career grand slam, giving AU a 7-0 advantage in the second inning of the seven-inning game. Cash closed the latter contest with two hits, five RBI and two runs scored.
Recording four singles for the day was senior right fielder Paul Como, while adding three runs scored for the day. The top of the Anderson lineup consisting of sophomores Kyle Bailey and Garrett Bernardo each posted three hits apiece with a combined five runs scored.
Sophomore first baseman Steven Cooper was held to a 0-for-4 performance in the opening game for his first 0-for-4 game since March 25 at North Greenville. Cooper made up for his showing in the first game with a 4-for-6 game in the final game of the day to go along with a run scored and an RBI.
Seniors Josh Hickman and Ben Pendleton each tallied two hits on the day, while LJ Newman posted a single in the first game.
In the first game of the day, senior right-hander Thomas Goodman earned the start and tossed 7.1 innings with six strikeouts and walking two Railsplitters. Despite grabbing highest strikeout total since March 1, Goodman received the no-decision after an eighth-inning rally by the home side doomed the Trojans. With a 6-5 lead heading into the bottom of the eighth inning, Lincoln Memorial scored three times as a double by Jonathan Lowe plated the game’s eventual winning runs.
AU left the game-tying run on first in the top of the ninth inning, as LMU evened up the series with the 8-6 victory.
The Trojans answered quickly in the second game as the visitors put up nine runs in the top of the second inning, headlined by Cash’s grand slam and six other AU hits. For Cash, the home run was his second of the year.
LMU chipped into the lead with two runs in the bottom of the second and in the fourth, but Anderson separated itself from the Railsplitters with six more runs in the fifth inning. The Trojans recorded eight hits in the inning, beginning with a leadoff double from Galliford.
After Lincoln Memorial scored one run in the sixth, the Railsplitters had the uphill task of a nine-run deficit in the seventh. With a completely new lineup from when it started the game, Lincoln Memorial plated seven runs on seven hits, but the comeback bid fell short as junior reliever Evan Jordan added his second save of the year.
Anderson returns to the diamond on Wednesday when it looks to avenge an earlier season loss to nationally-ranked Lander. Following its trip to its in-state rival on Wednesday, AU will begin a three-game set with Newberry next weekend, looking to clinch a spot into the Food Lion SAC Tournament for the first time in program history.