Merriken's RBI single clinches come-from-behind 12-11 victory over Erskine
Tornados score three in the bottom of the ninth to defeat Flying Fleet
Brevard, N.C. - Randy O’Dell and Kramer Clark had four hits apiece and Zack Merriken drove in Derek Ham with a bouncing single up the middle in the bottom of the ninth as the Tornados used a three-run final inning to complete the come-from-behind 12-11 victory over the visiting Erskine Flying Fleet on Wednesday afternoon.
Kevin Hamilton (2-1) picked up the win for the Tornados (10-13), pitching a scoreless two-thirds of an inning in escaping a jam in the top of the ninth, while Atlee Pearson (2-1) suffers the loss for Erskine (17-8).
Erskine opened the scoring in the first inning as John Bolding drove a 1-1 pitch from BC starter Jacob White over the left centerfield fence to put the Flying Fleet up 1-0.
The Tornados answered in the bottom half of the inning as Randy O’Dell hit a one-out double into the right centerfield gap, scoring Ron Patterson from first to even up the game. Brevard’s offense continued in the second inning as Patterson was picked off first base and caught in a rundown, allowing Kramer Clark to score from third ahead of the throw to give the Tornados the 2-1 lead.
Zack Smith singled home Zach McCarthy to tie the game up in the third for Erskine and the Flying Fleet went back ahead in the fourth as McCarthy doubled down the right field line, scoring Drew Willingham, but Derek Ham’s relay into the plate caught Casey Winckowski trying to score at the plate, ending the inning.
Brevard and Erskine swapped runs in the bottom of the fourth and top of the fifth as Clark scored on a wild pitch from Erskine starter Heath Gray and Kameron Armacost dropped a bunt down, scoring Steele Myers. The Flying Fleet took advantage of two Brevard errors in the top of the fifth as Phillip Herring and Smith scored to hold the 5-4 advantage at the midway point of the game.
The Tornados blew the game open in the bottom of the fifth as the first seven batters of the inning all reached base, with five coming around to score. O’Dell, Merriken and Pressley all recorded RBIs, while Clark and Myers greeted Flying Fleet relief pitcher Carlton Watts with run-scoring base hits to push the score at 9-5.
Erskine battled back in the eighth as Herring drew a walk to lead off the inning. Brian Laznik was plunked by a pitch, putting runners on first and second, but Dustin Haithcox retired the next batter on an infield pop fly. A base hit by Bolding loaded the bases and Willingham brought home the first run with an infield single. Luke Danielewicz followed with a single through the left side of the infield, scoring two to bring the Flying Fleet back to within one, but Michael Bradley entered the game and retired the side to end the threat.
After an intentional walk was issued to Smith, loading the bases with one out in the ninth, Bolding drove a double to the fence in right center, scoring all three runs to put Erskine up 11-9. Hamilton entered the game and after a wild pitch advanced Bolding to third, the right-hander retired the side to end the threat.
Pearson entered the game in an attempt to close out the victory, but he was greeted by three straight hits as Clark reached on an infield single, Myers doubled to left center advancing Clark to third and Champ Stuart reached on a slow infield chopper, scoring Clark to put the score at 11-10. Atlee retired the next BC batter on strikes and Ham grounded into a fielder’s choice as Myers was thrown out trying to tie the game up, setting the stage for O’Dell and he delivered, driving the pitch into centerfield scoring Stuart from second to tie the game up. Merriken worked Atlee to a 2-1 count before hitting a seeing-eye single up the middle, past a diving shortstop, scoring Ham to end the game.
White recorded the no decision on the day, pitching 5.2 innings, scattering four hits while striking out three. His opponent, Gray went four innings in allowing nine earned runs in also receiving the no decision.
Myers added three hits for Brevard as the Tornados recorded a season-high 19 hits in the victory. Bolding led the way for the Flying Fleet, driving in four runs while going 3-for-6 on the evening.
The Tornados remain at home this weekend as they host Mars Hill College in a South Atlantic Conference weekend series. First game of the series is on Friday, March 18th, with first pitch at Gil Coan Field coming at 3 p.m.