BELMONT, NC - The Belmont Abbey Crusaders Split a Conference Carolinas doubleheader against Erskine on Saturday at Abbey Yard. The Crusaders lost the opener by a 3-2 score, but managed to salvage the finale by an 8-3 score.
In the opener, Blake Waldren took the hill for the Abbey needing a win to force a rubber game in the series. Zack Bowers toed the slab for Erskine looking to maintain their one game lead in the Conference standings.
Erskine would get their only runs of the game in inning two, as Tyler Phillips plated a pair of runs with a double down the left field line to give the Flying Fleet a 2-0 lead. AJ Fabrizio would add a final run in the frame on a RBI groundout to third.
Staking Bowers to a lead in the early frames had a calming effect on Bowers, as he would toss five scoreless frames before Nick Nunziato would put the Abbey on the board. His sixteenth homer of the year would cut the deficit to 3-1 and offer a ray of hope to the Crusaders.
In the seventh, the Abbey had their chance, as Nick Beinlich came off the bench to deliver a sharp single to center. Jeff Thompson would be called upon to pinch hit for Conor Kwalwasser, delivering a line drive to right center that scored Beinlich and placed the potential tying run in scoring position.
The late rally forced Erskine to go to their bullpen, as Joe Johnson would come on to close the game and secure the series win.
A fly ball to deep left field would be caught for the second out of the inning, as Thompson tagged on the play, advancing to third.
Johnson would secure the series for Bowers and the Fleet, striking out Nick Nunziato to finish his weekend with 6.2 innings in relief, striking out 11 Abbey batters.
Waldren would suffer his third setback of the season, going 5.1 innings, allowing three runs on seven hits.
In game two, Belmont Abbey would send Harry Ferguson to the hill for his final Abbey Yard appearance in conference play.
Ferguson has been the beneficiary of some big offensive days, with the finale being no exception.
In the second trailing by a single run, the Crusaders would connect on six consecutive base hits, scoring all six batters to build a five run lead that Ferguson would enjoy for the majority of his outing.
Nick Beinlich had a trio of hits in the finale, driving in three for the day. Conor Kwalwasser had a pair of hits to go with two RBI in the winning effort. Matt McGarry also collected two safeties, scoring twice on the day.
The Crusaders will make their final nonconference appearance prior to the Conference Carolinas tournament in Burlington against their final SAC opponent in Wingate. The 6pm first pitch will be preceded by a 5:45 airtime of Crusaders Pregame on the Belmont Abbey Sports Network. The broadcast stream can be found at: www.basn.wgnc.net.