BELMONT, NC - The Belmont Abbey Crusaders used a walk off home run from Nick Beinlich to take down the Francis Marion Patriots by an 8-7 final at Abbey Yard today. The walk off win moves the Abbey record to 24-5-1, while Francis Marion is now 17-11 on the 2016 season.
Starting pitcher Matt Davenport was seeking his third win on the year, and received some early run support from two of the hottest Crusaders hitters. After Davenport spun a perfect first, Weston Clark opened the scoring with a two out, RBI double. Nick Beinlich would aide Davenport's cause, lifting a deep drive over the center field wall to up the lead to 3-0.
After the Patriots responded with a single run in the third, Kayden Krause entered the launch party, drilling a two run shot to left, giving the Abbey a 5-1. The Crusaders offense would sputter through the middle innings, allowing Francis Marion time to initiate a comeback.
A three run fourth for the Patriots would trim the lead to a single run, as Logan Koch would drive home a run with a double, then score on a wild pitch to cap the three run rally. Koch would repeat the effort in the sixth off reliever Brady Hill, knotting the contest at 5-5.
With the game now in the hands of both bullpens, Davenport would have to settle with a no decision. The senior from Charlotte would toss five innings, allowing three earned runs while striking out two Patriots.
In the seventh, the Patriots would take their first lead as Casey Clauss and Brooks Kennedy would score on wild pitches to give Francis Marion a 7-5 advantage. The two run outburst would warrant the entry of Ross Garrett into the fray.
Garrett would be greeted by an infield single before striking out Koch to end the seventh. From there, Garrett would retire the remaining six batters faced, giving the Abbey a glimmer of hope.
In the eighth, Lorenzo Wright doubled down the left field line, giving the Crusaders the potential tying run at the plate. Kevin Elefante bounced a ground ball to the right side, but a Patriots misplay would score Wright, causing Elefante to reach. Levi Wright would run for Elefante, ultimately scoring on a wild pitch off to tie the game.
With Garrett on the mound in the ninth, the redshirt junior right hander would set the Patriots down in order, setting the scene for Beinlich in the ninth.
With Zac Burke on the mound for Francis Marion, Beinlich would drive an 0-2 curveball deep to left center, sending the Abbey faithful home happy with their 11th home win versus two losses and a tie. The win also leaves the Abbey just one shy of last year's total of 25 wins in 2015.
Beinlich and Clarke each tallied three hits each, as the Crusaders accumulated seven hits for extra bases on the afternoon.
Ross Garrett would pick up the win in relief, his sixth of the year. The win leads the team as well as all of Conference Carolinas.
The Crusaders will play their final game prior to a four day respite, prompted by the Easter holiday. Game time is slated for six o'clock, as the Crusaders entertain Lenoir-Rhyne in a non-conference tilt. Airtime on BASN will be joined in progress, immediately following Crusaders Women's Lacrosse on Ustream. Follow the action at: www.basn.wgnc.net.