On a chilly afternoon at Abbey Yard, the Belmont Abbey Crusaders defeated Slippery Rock 7-6 in extra innings before losing the nightcap by a 2-1 score. The Crusaders move their record to 4-3-1, as Slippery Rock begins the 2016 campaign at 1-1.
After spotting The Rock a five run lead through two and a half innings, the Abbey found the scoreboard in the bottom of the third as Nick Nunziato connected for his third long ball of the year, trimming the gap to 5-3. The Nunziato homer was his second three run shot in as many days for the Abbey. Weston Clark then doubled to the right field corner, reaching third on a wild pitch. Lorenzo Wright would send Clarke home with a ground out to short, bringing the Crusaders to a 5-4 deficit.
After starting pitcher Harry Ferguson handed the ball to Kyle Halbohn to begin the fourth, the senior would surrender a single run in the frame to trail The Rock by a pair. However, Halbohn would toss four innings of effective relief, giving the Crusaders a chance to make a charge in the sixth.
Wright would single to start the rally in the sixth, steal second, then score on a RBI double by Nick Beinlich. Beinlich would knot the contest at six on a single from Colin Rosenbaum. The Crusaders nearly came through with the go ahead run in the frame, loading the bases, but Slippery Rock reliever James Divosevic would work out the jam, leaving the bags packed.
Halbohn would depart to begin the eighth, finishing with five strikeouts on four hits allowed.
Adam Riddle would relieve Halbohn in the eighth, retiring both batters that he faced by strikeout in his specialist assignment. Ryan Craig would finish the inning with a strikeout, the teams eleventh of the game, sending the Crusaders to their final at bat.
Matt McGarry singled and got to third as Divosevic uncorked a wild throw into the right field corner. With the winning run 90 feet from first, Nunziato would be given an intentional free pass with one down to set the scene for Clarke. Clarke would deposit a second base hit into the corner, delighting the crowd at Abbey Yard with the walk off winner. Clarke would pace the Abbey offense with his multi-hit game, along with McGarry, Beinlich and Rosenbaum. Ryan Craig earned the win, facing the lone batter he faced in the eighth.
The nightcap was an extension of the first, as both clubs were equally yoked throughout the day. Matt Davenport went opposite Jon Anderson, both getting their first start of 2016. Anderson carried a no-hitter into the fifth inning, while Davenport and Aaron Rumburg matched him virtually pitch for pitch.
The Rock would ultimately strike first with a run on the fourth, as Tyler Walters doubled down the left field line. Alex Bell would then move Walters to third on a fielders choice, as Walter's gamble on the base path got him just under the tag of Nick Nunziato. Preston Falascino would produce the run with his single, just eluding the diving effort of Nick Beinlich.
The Crusaders would pick up the equalizer in the sixth as Colin Rosembaum, who led off with a walk, scored an unearned run after a Matt McGarry ground ball was mishandled in the infield, giving the Crusaders a chance to earn the sweep.
The Abbey respite was short lived, as Heath King was touched up for a single run in the seventh, as Walters would drive home Frankie Jezioro with eventual game winner. Wyatt Daugherty would coax a ground ball out of McGarry to end the game, earning Daugherty his first collegiate save.
The Crusaders will wrap up the five game home stand against Brevard on Tuesday. Airtime on the Belmont Abbey Sports Network will be at 1:45pm for the 2pm first pitch. You can follow the game at: www.basn.wgnc.net.