Brevard, N.C. - Zach Merriken drove an 0-1 offering from Alderson-Broaddus relief pitcher Mike Hackett over the left field fence and on top of the batting cages at Gil Coan Field on Sunday afternoon for the walk-off home run as the Tornados completed the sweep over the visiting Battlers with the 9-8 victory.
Brevard (3-2) overcame a 5-0 deficit behind the strong bats of Cody Queen and Tarron Robinson as the duo combined for three hits apiece and four RBIs to give left-handed reliever Jonathan Bethea his first collegiate win after 1.2 innings of shutout relief. Hackett (0-1) suffers the loss for Alderson-Broaddus (0-3) despite strong performances at the plate by Mitch Roy, David Bryan, Sean Collette and Kirby Clemens as the quartet combined to go 12-for-19 from the plate, scoring six runs, while driving in four.
A-B jumped on BC starting pitcher Zach Huneycutt early, loading the bases with one out in the top of the first, with Clemens driving in the first run of the game with a single through the left side, scoring Bryan to give the Battlers the early lead. Huneycutt pitched out of trouble, picking Collette off third base and recorded a groundout to limit the damage and end the inning.
Alderson-Broaddus added another run in the third inning as Clemens reached on a two-out double down the right field line and came around as Jeff Conley reached on an error to double the Battlers lead.
Two more crossed for the visitors in the fourth and another came around on the fifth as Bryan drove in a run on a single, Brandon Gignac scored on another Brevard fielding error and Hackett drove in Conley with a double to right centerfield, giving A-B the 5-0 lead halfway through the game.
The Tornados struck back in the bottom half of the fifth, getting on the scoreboard after loading the bases with two outs in the inning. Kameron Armacost and Eric Renegar reached on back-to-back singles and Queen coaxed a walk, bringing Robinson to the plate, and the senior first baseman delivered, driving the ball into the right centerfield gap, clearing the bases to put the score at 5-3.
The Battlers added another run in the sixth was Clemens brought home Roy on a groundout, but the Tornados continued to chip into the lead as Bennett Hixson tripled home Kramer Clark and Christian Christopoulos followed with a sacrifice fly to straightaway centerfield scoring Hixson to put the score at 6-5 heading into the final three innings.
Brevard took their first lead of the contest in the bottom of the seventh as the Tornados tied the game up on a base hit by Randy O’Dell scoring Queen from third base and Robinson scored on an infield error by the Battlers, putting Brevard up 7-6.
The Battlers lived up to their name, plating two more runs in the top of the eighth to retake the lead as Bryan and Collette both reached base to lead off the inning. A sacrifice bunt advanced the runners, before Clemens brought in the tying run with a dribbler out of the batters’ box, scoring Bryan from third to knot the game up. A daring double steal froze the Tornados on the field, allowing Collette to take home to give Alderson-Broaddus the 8-7 lead.
Brevard tied the game up again in the eighth as Armacost drew a walk and made his way around the diamond on a sacrifice bunt and wild pitch before coming around to score on Queen’s base hit to left field, sending the game into the final inning.
Roy challenged Bethea with a two-out double down the left field line to put A-B in scoring position, but Bryan lined out to Merriken in right field to end the inning, setting the stage for the final play of the game.
Merriken took the first pitch of the at-bat for a strike before turning on Hackett’s offering, driving the ball over the left field fence and on top of the batting cages for Brevard’s second walk-off win during the weekend series with Alderson-Broaddus as the Tornados their sixth consecutive win over the Battlers since the teams began their series in the 2011 season.
Brevard returns to the road on Tuesday, February 14th, as the Tornados travel to Asheboro, N.C. and McCrary Park for a nine-inning contest against Winston-Salem State University. First pitch between the Tornados and the Rams is set for 4 p.m.