BELMONT, NC - The Belmont Abbey Crusaders (31-9-1, 18-4 CC) lost the opening game of a three game set to Erskine by a 5-4 count in twelve innings tonight at Abbey Yard.
Tyler Byrnes would go opposite Alex Calvert on Friday. Both pitchers took sterling records into the battle of clubs atop the Conference Carolinas leaderboard.
Both clubs would exchange zeroes on the board until Conor Kwalwasser singled sharply to left to open the third. Two batters later, Colin Rosenbaum singled Kwalwasser to third to give the Abbey it's best run scoring opportunity to that point.
Nick Nunziato would capitalize, driving home Kwalwasser with a sac fly to right, giving Byrnes and the Crusaders a 1-0 advantage.
Erskine (33-10,19-3 CC) retaliated in the sixth, as the Flying Fleet would score a trio of runs to grab their first lead, highlighted by a Kyle Heiss groundout to short, giving Erskine their first lead at 2-1.
The Abbey would respond, plating two runs in the bottom half of the sixth. Lorenzo Wright scored Kayden Krause with a triple to center field, followed by a Matt McGarry Texas Leaguer that scored Wright to tie the contest.
The Abbey would retake the lead in the seventh, as Weston Clarke doubled home Kwalwasser, giving the Abbey a one run lead at 4-3.
Kyle Halbohn would come on in the eighth, seeking his ninth save. The senior right-hander tossed a scoreless frame to put the Abbey in position for the game one win.
In the ninth, AJ Fabrizio would single to right, scoring Tyler Phillips and spoiling the effort for Byrnes.
On the night, Byrnes went seven frames, scattering seven hits while allowing just two earned runs.
The game remained deadlocked until the twelfth inning, when Erskine would squeeze home a run, giving the Fleet a 5-4 lead. Tanner Lollis executed a squeeze play to the right side of the infield, scoring Chase Watts to make the score 5-4.
Refusing to go down without a fight, the Crusaders would have the winning run in scoring position when Matt McGarry grounded out to end the game.
Joe Johnson would pick up the win, going 6.0 innings of relief, allowing one run on five hits while punching out ten Abbey hitters.
Halbohn would be saddled with the loss, allowing two runs on six hits through five innings of work.
Three Abbey hitters paced the offense with multi- hit games, as Krause, Kwalwasser and Rosenbaum each contributed a pair of hits in the loss.
Tomorrow, Blake Waldren will take the hill for the Abbey, seeking revenge in the seven inning game. Harry Ferguson will go in the finale, as the Abbey looks to take their Conference series win streak to eight straight. First pitch is slated for noon, with BASN coverage beginning at 11:45am. Find the internet radio stream by logging onto: www.basn.wgnc.net.