ANDERSON, S.C. – Despite seeing archrival Erskine take leads in the ninth and 11th innings, Anderson University answered both deficits and captured an 8-7 walk-off victory as the program’s seniors took part in their final home game Monday evening at Anderson Memorial Stadium.
With the victory, the Trojans close the regular season with a 19-30 overall record as they prepare for their first ever trip to the Food Lion South Atlantic Conference Tournament on Thursday. Erskine drops to 32-12 overall as it heads into the Conference Carolinas Tournament later this week.
Anderson started nine seniors for the day, as the senior-led outfield of Nathan Galliford, Paul Como and Josh Hickman combined for eight of AU’s 14 hits for the evening, highlighted by two extra-base hits from Galliford, including a walk-off double. Senior Ryan Mills, who started at first base, posted two hits, including a two-run double in the seventh inning.
Jonathan Zalud, who was also playing in his final game at Memorial Stadium, recorded a sixth-inning double, as the catcher has now tallied a hit in seven of his last eight contests. Seniors Ben Pendleton and Harrison Monda each nabbed a hit, while the duo combined for two RBI and two runs scored.
On the mound, senior right-hander Will Walls completed five innings and held the Flying Fleet scoreless on two hits. Walls faced just 20 Erskine hitters in the span and struck out three in his first start of the year. Freshman Hunter Crompton came into pitch in the sixth and shutdown the Erskine attack for three innings until the Fleet offense, which ranks first in Conference Carolinas in average (.341), came alive in the top-half of the ninth inning with six runs on six hits for their first lead of the contest.
Facing the deficit, Anderson answered with two outs in the bottom of the frame when Galliford split the right-center field gap with his first triple of the season. When Erskine tried to relay the ball from the outfield, the throw got away from the EC defense and Galliford scored on the defensive miscue. Unable to score following the run, the game headed into extra innings knotted up at 6-6.
After a scoreless 10th inning, the visitors found the scoreboard once again when substitute Hanlon Maivelett singled, bringing in Zack Jones and giving Erskine a one-run lead.
With the game on the line for the second time, AU responded in the bottom-half as Monda drew an inning-opening walk. Sophomore Steven Cooper came in to pinch hit on the ensuing at-bat and single to right field, advancing Monda to third.
Next, Mills sent a single through the right side, scoring Monda from third and placing Cooper on second. With an out in the inning, Galliford made the most of his final at-bat at Memorial Stadium with a double to left-center field, scoring Cooper and giving AU the win in its regular season finale.
For the second time this season, the Trojans outhit Conference Carolinas’ top-hitting team, with a 14-13 advantage for the evening. Monday marked the 27th time the Trojan offense has recorded double figure hits for a game.
As the win snaps a four-game losing skid, Anderson shifts it focus to the conference tournament where it will square off against SAC regular season co-champion and top-seeded Catawba in the opening round on Thursday. First pitch from Forest City, N.C. is scheduled for noon.