Erskine scored seven unanswered runs to erase a 5-0 Belmont Abbey lead as the Flying Fleet rallied to defeat the Crusaders 7-6 this afternoon in the Conference Carolinas Tournament at Burlington Athletic Park in Burlington, North Carolina. Erskine advances in the winners bracket as it improves to 33-15, while the Abbey falls to 23-21.
Belmont Abbey will meet the loser of tonight's Mount Olive-North Greenville matchup Friday morning at 11:00 a.m. in an elimination game.
The Crusaders, seeded fifth and the designated home team, surged ahead 5-0, starting with a run in the first on an RBI groundout by Anthony Dimino.
Belmont Abbey added to its lead in the fifth, powering ahead 5-0 on back-to-back homers, starting with a two run shot by Kayden Krause, followed immediately by a solo shot from Dimino to increase the Crusaders lead to 5-0.
Erskine began its comeback in the bottom of the frame, as the Flying Fleet scored three times, getting two runs on a Brandon Overstreet homer and an RBI single from Richard Dix to trim the Crusaders lead to 5-3.
The Flying Fleet offense kept their momentum going in the sixth, moving ahead 6-5 on the strength of three runs, capped off by a two RBI double by Zach Smith to give Erskine its first lead at 7-5.
Belmont Abbey pulled within one in the seventh, as Nunziato's single to left scored Conor Kwalwasser to close the gap to 7-6.
Erskine had a chance to add to its lead in the eighth, as Houston Ison lined a two out to left field, but Lorenzo Wright kept the deficit one run as he threw out Smith at home to end the inning.
Down to its final three outs, the Crusaders went down in order in the ninth as Erskine defeated the Abbey for the fourth time this season.
Erskine starter Luke Crumley moved to 9-1 as he pitched six innings, allowing five runs, four earned, on five hits. He struck out four. Zach McAllister held the Abbey to one run on two hits in the final three innings to earn his sixth save. Crusaders starter Matt Davenport fell to 7-4 in the defeat, as he yielded seven runs on nine hits in five and two-thirds innings, striking out three.