TIGERVILLE, S.C. -- Luke Cureton led off the bottom of the 10th inning with a towering home run to left center, lifting third-seeded Belmont Abbey to a 5-4 victory over No. 6 Wingate in the opening game of the 2018 NCAA Divion II Southeast Regional.
With the win, the Crusaders advance to a winner's bracket game tomorrow night at 7 against No. 7 seed Lincoln Memorial, a 9-4 winner over No. 2 Georgia College in the second game of the day.
"Coach Anderson told us at the start of the inning that we just needed one runner, so I wanted to take pitches until I got a good one I could drive through," Cureton said. "I knew was he was feeling confident in his fastball, so if I told myself if it was a fastball anywhere near I would take a hack at it. It just so happened he threw it middle in and I got all of it."
The Crusaders (38-12) took a 1-0 lead in the second on Thomas Yoder's 14th home run of the season, a solo shot to right center. Wingate evened the game at 1-1 with an unearned run in the third, then took a 3-0 lead on a two-run single in the top of the sixth.
The lead did not last long, as the Crusaders tied the game in the bottom of the frame. With one out, Cureton singled before Yoder doubled him to third. An RBI groundout by Josh Genthe cut the deficit to 3-2, then Kevin Elefante tied the game with a single through the right side.
A sacrifice fly for the Bulldogs (34-18) in the eighth tied the game at 4.
"I feel great," Anderson admitted. "We did a good job as the game went along. We hit some balls right at people early, but so did they. It is always good to beat a team as well-coached as Wingate. Any type of momentum is good going into tomorrow."
Parker MacPhail (6-1) earned the win with 2.2 near-perfect innings of relief. He retired eight of the nine batters he faced since coming on with one out in the seventh. Three of the Bulldogs he faced struck out.
Alex Rodriguez suffered the tough loss to fall to 6-1. He also threw 2.2 innings, allowing four hits, while striking out one.