By John Fitzgerald-
The Belmont Abbey Baseball team lost both games today at Armstrong State by scores of 5-4 and 14-1 to close its 2015 season. The Crusaders finished 25-25 overall while the Pirates, ranked 16th nationally and eighth in the NCAA Southeast Region, improve to 32-13 with the three game sweep.
In the opener, after allowing two runners to reach base with no outs in the first inning, Weston Clarke started to cool off the early boost by Armstrong State. He retired each of the next two batters he faced, but a pair of hits to right field put the Pirates in front 2-0 after one.
The Crusaders responded quickly. Third baseman Nick Nunziato led off the top of the second with a home run to center field to cut the Pirate lead in half.
The action continued in the bottom half of the inning. With one out, Armstong's Will Austin singled, stole second, and advanced to third on a flyout to center. Clarke, however, struck out Cody Sherlin looking to end the threat.
In the third after a Lorenzo Wright walk, Kayden Krause placed a well-hit ball into right field, putting runners at first and third. Anthony Dimino followed up with a sacrifice fly to left, tying the game at two.
Armstrong State responded in the bottom of the inning with four hits resulting in two runs. The Abbey did not score again until the eighth, when Matt McGarry scored on a passed ball by Berry Aldridge, making the score 5-3 Pirates. Nunziato led off the ninth with his second homer of the game to bring the Crusaders within one. However, the Crusaders did not reach base after Nunziato's homer, losing a close game by a score of 5-4. With the win, Armstrong State pitcher Corey Kafka improved his record to 6-2, while Clarke slipped to 0-3.
Game two was all Pirates. Armstrong State struck early as Zach Lance's RBI single scored Sherlin. Sherlin later led off the third and scored on J.T. Phillips' single to left field. Armstrong State built a 10-0 lead, including a four run sixth inning, by the time the Crusaders crossed home plate in the eighth.
Krause singled to left to bring in Kyle Craig, who had pinch-hit earlier in the inning. The Pirates scored four runs of their own in the bottom of the inning to cap off the 14-1 victory.
The Pirates' J.T. Phillips raised his record to 4-3 while Harry Ferguson fell to 6-8.