Brevard, N.C. - On the day he received SAC Player of the Week honors, Champ Stuart continued his impressive sophomore season at the plate, hitting a solo home run in the bottom of the eighth to tie the game against visiting North Greenville University and Tarron Robinson followed with an RBI single to put Brevard ahead as the Tornados held off the Crusaders on Tuesday afternoon at Gil Coan Field, 7-6.
Stuart, coming into the game with as the South Atlantic Conference leader with a .449 batting average, extended his 13 game hitting streak with a single in the bottom of the sixth inning, before connected on a solo home run off NGU reliever Nate Richards (1-3) to tie the game up at 6-all. Robinson put Brevard ahead for good three batters later, singling home Kameron Armacost as the Tornados extend their season-best winning streak to eight games in the victory over the Crusaders.
North Greenville (25-17) opened the scoring in the contest in the top of the first against BC starter Joseph Lepore as Markus Duckworth opened the frame reaching on a bunt single. Duckworth stole second and moved to third on Anthony Foulk’s grounder, before coming around to score on Adam Taylor’s groundout to give the Crusaders the early lead.
Brevard (23-20) answered suit in the bottom of the second inning as Eric Renegar reached on a two-out bouncing single up the middle. Renegar advanced on a stolen base, scoring on Bennett Hixson’s single through the left side of the infield to even the score after two innings of play.
North Greenville went up two in the top of the fourth inning as Allen Staton followed David Frazier’s one-out single with a mammoth home run, clearing the Brevard bullpen in left field to put the Crusaders up 3-1.
Brevard answered with three in the bottom of the inning, taking advantage of an outfield error to go up 4-3 after four innings. Renegar singled in the first run of the inning, plating Randy O’Dell with a base hit up middle, and Whit Bowen and Kramer Clark added RBI base hits in the frame to give Brevard their first lead of the game.
Brevard loaded the bases in the fifth inning, threatening to extend their lead, but NGU starter Andrew Lawrence was able to work his way out of the jam with the score intact, and the Crusaders took advantage, plating two more runs in the top of the sixth inning to retake the lead.
Frank Polino provided the damage in the frame, driving in Frazier and Derek Fulmer with a two-out single up the middle to push the Crusaders ahead 5-4 with three innings to play.
Back-to-back hits to lead off the seventh put runners on the corners for North Greenville and Taylor added another run for the guests, scoring Duckworth on a groundout to give the Crusaders the two-run edge, but Brevard cut the lead back to within one in the bottom half of the frame as Robinson scored on a bases-loaded wild pitch that sailed to the BC backstop to put the score at 6-5.
Thomas Gill (3-2) pitched a perfect 1-2-3 inning for the Tornados in the top of the eighth, setting the stage for Stuart and Robinson’s heroics.
In the ninth, the Crusaders mounted a rally against BC reliever Jonathan Bethea, putting two runners on with one out and had the tying run on third base as Duckworth advanced on Taylor’s fly ball to right field. Fulmer connected on a 1-0 pitch from the BC left fielder, driving the ball into the gap in left centerfield, but Clark was able to track the ball down before falling into the fence to record the final out and the Brevard victory.
Renegar and Clark had three hits apiece for the Tornados in the game, while Renegar added a pair of runs scored as the Tornados extended their winning streak to eight games, the longest streak the BC baseball program has had since Brevard became an NCAA Division II member back in 2008. Bethea picked up his first save on the season with his scoreless ninth inning.
Duckworth, Foulk and Frazier all had two hits for the Crusaders, while Taylor, Staton and Polino all had two RBIs for the visitors.
Brevard remains at home as the Tornados welcome Anderson University to Gil Coan Field on Friday, April 13th, for their final South Atlantic Conference series of the season. First pitch in the opening nine-inning contest between the Tornados and the Trojans is set for 3 p.m.