The Belmont Abbey baseball team erased a 7-1 deficit in the seventh inning by scoring three times in the seventh and five more in the ninth-all with two outs-to score a thrilling 9-8 win over the visiting Pfeiffer University Falcons this afternoon in the Conference Carolinas opener for both teams. Belmont Abbey, winners of two straight, improve to 7-10 overall and 1-0 in Conference Carolinas, while the Falcons fall to 8-7 overall and 0-1 in league play.
After Anthony Dimino led off the bottom of the first with a solo homer to tie the game at one, Pfeiffer starting pitcher Ethan Greene baffled the Abbey over the next six innings, allowing just three hits and striking out eight as he retired 12 of the first 13 batters. 18 of Greene's first 20 pitches were strikes, and the offense powered him to a 7-1 lead after five innings as the Falcons used four Abbey defensive misues to their advantage.
Pfeiffer scored two in the fourth on two Abbey errors and turned another Abbey error in the fifth into three runs to increase its lead to 8-1. However, the Falcons did not score again.
Greene cruised through six and one-thirds before the Crusaders touched him for three in the bottom of the seventh, all on one swing of the bat.
The Crusaders only had one hit through the first six innings-on Diminio's homer-but the Abbey collected two in the seventh and scored three on one of those: a Kennan Stanley three run homer that sailed just inside the foul pole.
Nick Beinlich led off with a walk. After a groundout, Weston Clarke recorded the Abbey's second hit of the game with a single to center. Stanley followed with his second homer of the year, clouting a towering shot that was ruled fair by the home plate umpire. His blast cut the Falcons lead in half at 8-4.
In the eighth, Matt Davenport-who entered in the seventh in relief of starter Cody Stull-kept Pfeiffer off the board as he worked around a two out single by Jon Gray. Gray stole second and raced to third on a wild pitch.
The next batter, Tyler Summers, executed a perfect bunt down the third base line, but Clarke charged, fielded and threw a strike to Quinn Hawksworth a step before Summers touched the bag as Gray raced home on the squeeze play.
In the bottom of the eighth, Dimino led off with a double and moved to third on a double play groundout, but a strikeout ended the inning as the Crusaders entered the ninth trailing 8-4.
Forrest Buchanan held the Falcons scoreless in the ninth after he worked around a leadoff single, and the Crusaders simply won the game in the bottom of the frame, scoring five times with two outs. Three Crusaders were hit by a pitch in the inning, the last of which scored the wininng run.
Adam Venditti led off with a single and was replaced by Michael Accetullo. Clarke reached when he was hit by a pitch. Stanley was the first batter retired when his flyout to right was deep enough to move Accetullo to third. Accetullo scored on Jon Pilla's sacrifice fly that cut the lead to 8-5.
With Clarke on first, Jobe hit Conor Kwalwasser with a pitch, and then Dimino beat out an infield single to load the bases.
Hawksworth cut the lead to 8-7 when he singled Jobe's first pitch back up the middle, chasing home Clarke and Kwalwasser. After Hawksworth was lifted for Levi Wright, Michael Falsetti tied the game at eight when he blistered a single to center, scoring Dimino with the tying run.
Jobe was lifted for Dylan Norris, who came in to face Beinlich. Beinlich worked the count full and fouled off several pitches before Norris issued ball four to load the bases.
With Accetullo due up, Sam Grise entered the game to pinch hit. Grise worked the count to 2-2, foulling off three pitches before Norris hit him in the backside, scoring Wright with the winning run.
Belmont Abbey, which had only two hits in six and a thirds innings, finished with nine as Dimino totaled three. Clarke finished with a pair.
Stull worked the first six innings, allowing nine hits and eight runs, but only two of those were earned. He struck out nine and did not issue a walk.
Jobe took the loss after giving up five runs, all earned, on five hits in an inning and two thirds. He struck out one.
The two teams close the series Saturday at noon with a doubleheader. The first game will be seven innings, followed by a nine inning contest.