BELMONT, N.C. – Coker and Belmont Abbey split their Conference Carolinas doubleheader on Saturday afternoon. The Crusaders rallied to win game one 10-9 and lost game two 10-6 to the Cobras at Abbey Yard. The Abbey is now 9-9 overall and 7-3 in Conference Carolinas, while the Cobras move to 11-9 overall and 5-6 in Conference Carolinas.
In the opener, the Abbey jumped ahead 3-0 in the first on an RBI double by Danny Brion, an RBI single by Ryan Ronda, and using a passed ball that scored Roberto Sanchez. The Abbey's lead was short lived as the Cobras struck for six runs in the top of the second, with the big blow coming on a three-run homer by Matthew Kearnes (Bay Shore, N.Y.).
Trailing 6-3, the Abbey got one run back in the bottom of the second on a sacrifice fly by Brion that plated Josh Frazier.
That was all of the scoring until the sixth when the Cobras moved its lead to 8-4 after scoring two runs, the first coming on an RBI groundout by Jessie Crockett (North East, Md.) and the second when Trey Lynch (Florence, S.C.) scored on a balk.
The Abbey began its comeback with a run in the seventh when Sanchez sped home from third on a passed ball to cut the deficit to 8-5.
One inning later, the Abbey regained the lead for the first time since the first inning by scoring five runs, all coming with two outs. After the first two batters were retired, Frazier drew a walk and moved to second on a single by Matt Mazzolla. Both men moved up one base on a wild pitch, and Sanchez followed with a single to right that plated Frazier to close the gap to 8-6. Brion then gave the Abbey a 9-6 lead with a towering opposite field homer to right center.
In the top of the ninth, Coker scored the tying run as Drew Hardee walked his namesake to leadoff the inning. Hardee moved to third on a throwing error on a failed pickoff attempt. Matt Ammons (Chester, S.C.) was then hit by a pitch, and the Abbey's Drew Hardee was lifted for Evan Jonas. Brinley Griffin (Port St. John, Fla.) welcomed Jonas with a double to left center, scoring Hardee easily with the tying run, and the relay throw from the outfield cut down Ammons at third. Jonas avoided further damage by ending the inning with a strikeout and a groundout.
Belmont Abbey pushed across the winning run in the bottom of the ninth as Justin Baxley singled up the middle, moved to second when Dye was hit by a pitch, and to third on a fielder's choice. Frazier then drew a walk, and Mazzolla ended the game with a single just inside the third base line allowing Baxley to score easily.
Jonas earned the win after giving up one run on one hit in an inning. Jonathan Gainey (Hartsville, S.C.) (0-1) took the loss after allowing the tying and winning runs to score in two thirds of an inning.
Sanchez finished four for four with an RBI and three runs scored. Brion collected two hits and four RBI. Daniel Hiatt (Elwood, Ind.) led Coker with a 3-for-4 day with an RBI and a run scored.
In the nightcap, the Cobras scored the first seven runs of the game and held off a late Abbey rally to earn a split. Coker scored five in the second and two more in the third to pull ahead 7-0. The Crusaders scored their first run of the game in the third as Dye led off with a double to left, moved to third on a groundout by Frazier and scored on a single by Roland Rodriguez.
The Cobras matched the Abbey's run with a single tally in the fourth to move ahead 8-1, but the Abbey put up five in the bottom half to cut the lead to 8-6. After two were retired, the Crusaders strung together five straight singles, as Dye singled home a run, and Rodriguez doubled home two more. Sanchez kept the rally going with a two RBI single back up the middle to cut the lead to 8-6.
Coker again had an answer, plating two with two outs in the top of the fifth, taking advantage of two Abbey errors to score those two runs to close the scoring.
Matt Long (Florence, S.C.) (5-2) picked up the win after giving up six runs on ten hits in five innings, fanning two. Jordan Cudney took the loss after allowing nine runs, five earned, on 11 hits in four and two-thirds innings.
Kearnes led the Cobras with a four for four effort with a run scored. Rodriguez, Sanchez and Dye each led the Crusaders with two hits apiece.
The rubber game of the series gets underway Sunday at 1:00 p.m.