Falcons sweep Braves in doubleheader to clinch conference series

FROM STAFF REPORTS

MONTEVALLO – The University of Montevallo baseball team swept visiting UNC Pembroke with a pair of come-from-behind victories in the final two games of a three-game Peach Belt Conference series Feb. 24 at Kermit A. Johnson Field.

The Falcons defeated the Braves, who entered the weekend ranked No. 12 in the Collegiate Baseball Newspaper NCAA Division II poll, 6-5 in the second game of the series before picking up a 7-6 walk-off win in the 10th inning in the final game. Montevallo (8-6 overall, 4-2 in Peach Belt Conference) has started off conference play by clinching its first two series for the first time since joining the Peach Belt Conference prior to the 2010 season.

“I couldn’t be more proud of our team than I am tonight,” said Montevallo coach Chandler Rose. “I really challenged them last night and they responded in a huge way. UNC Pembroke is an outstanding baseball team and this is a great series win. We had so many guys step up and contribute in both wins. We need to continue working hard to improve every day, but if we can bring that fight and passion every game we have a chance to be a very good team.”

Senior Andrew Hill came through in the clutch with a walk-off RBI single to left field in the bottom of the 10th inning in the Falcons’ 7-6 win in the nightcap. Sophomore Zack Willoughby lifted Montevallo to victory with his two-run double to left-center field in the bottom of the eighth inning in the Falcons’ 6-5 win over UNC Pembroke in the first game of the doubleheader.

Freshman Cody Hughes picked up the win in the final game of the series after earning his third save of the season in the Falcons’ victory in the first game of the doubleheader.

Hill, who drove in two runs and scored one run, led the Falcons in the nightcap as he finished 3-for-5 at the plate.

Sophomore Vinny Rodriguez, who drove in two runs and scored two runs, also went 3-for-5 at the plate with a double. Junior Jackson Slaid, who drove in one run and scored one run, finished 1-for-2 at the plate with a double. Freshman Josh Floyd went 1-for-4 at the plate and drove in two runs.

Willoughby, senior Austin Dubberly and junior Will Fulmer scored one run each.

Hughes (1-0) took home the win after giving up three hits and striking out three batters in 1 2/3 innings in relief.

Junior starter Edward Brandsema gave up five earned runs on seven hits with four walks in 4 2/3 innings. Senior Devon Davis gave up just one hit in 1 1/3 innings in relief, while junior Alex Guilford allowed one earned run on two hits with two strikeouts in 2 1/3 innings.

The Braves jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the top of the second inning in the nightcap. Drew Cole plated one run with an RBI single before a two-run single by Daniel Fraga plated an additional two runs.

UNC Pembroke pushed its lead to 5-0 in the top of the fifth inning. Ben Schmucker plated a run with a RBI double down the right-field line before Drew Alford drove in a run with a RBI single.

The Falcons trimmed the deficit to 5-3 in the bottom half of the frame. Slaid was hit by a pitch in the first at-bat of the inning before scoring on a RBI single to right-center field by Hill. A two-run single up the middle by Floyd plated Hill and Dubberly, who reached on a walk.

Montevallo tied the game at 5-5 in the bottom of the sixth inning. Willoughby, who was hit by a pitch, scored on a RBI double to left-center field by Rodriguez. Slaid followed with a RBI double to left field to plate Rodriguez.

UNC Pembroke took a 6-5 lead with a run in the top of the seventh inning. Brett Huffman drove in Tyler Potter with an RBI double down the left-field line.

The Falcons knotted the game at 6-6 with a run in the bottom half of the inning. Fulmer reached on a walk and stole second base before scoring on a RBI single to center field by Rodriguez.

Montevallo plated the game’s final run in the bottom of the 10th inning with a walk-off RBI single by Hill, which plated Rodriguez and lifted the Falcons to a 7-6 victory.

Rodriguez led Montevallo at the plate with a 2-for-4 performance in the Falcons’ 6-5 win over the Braves in the first game of the doubleheader. Rodriguez, who had a double, drove in one run and scored one run in the victory.

Junior Todd Thompson, who drove in one run and scored two runs, went 1-for-4 at the plate. Slaid, who drove in one run and scored one run, finished 1-for-5 at the plate.

Willoughby finished 1-for-4 at the plate with a double and drove in two runs. Sophomore Chad Collum drove in one run, while Fulmer and Hill scored one run each.

Sophomore Aron McRee earned the win after giving up just two hits in 2/3 of an inning in relief of junior starter Josh Clemen.

Clemen allowed five runs, including four earned runs, on seven hits with seven strikeouts and two walks in 7 1/3 innings. Hughes picked up the save after striking out two batters without allowing a hit in a scoreless ninth inning.

UNC Pembroke took a 1-0 lead in the top of the fourth inning in the first game of the doubleheader. Schmuker singled up the middle before scoring on a RBI single to left field by Derrick Phillips.

The Braves added another run in the top of the sixth inning to push their lead to 2-0. Huffman singled before scoring on a RBI double down the left-field line by Alford.

The Falcons tied the game at 2-2 with two runs in the bottom half of the frame. Rodriguez singled to right field before scoring on a RBI triple by Slaid down the right-field line. Slaid scored later in the inning on a RBI sacrifice fly by Collum.

UNC Pembroke plated two runs in the top of the seventh inning to take a 4-2 lead. Chad Whitehead and Fraga scored on a two-run single to right field by Huffman.

Montevallo cut the deficit to 4-3 with a run in the bottom of the seventh inning. Thompson was hit by a pitch, stole second base and advanced to third on a UNC Pembroke error before scoring on a fielder’s choice.

The Braves took a 5-3 lead with a run in the top of the eighth inning. Cole, a pinch runner, scored on a RBI single by Fraga to give UNC Pembroke a two-run cushion.

However, it wasn’t enough to hold off the Falcons, who plated three runs in the bottom half of the frame in the come-from-behind victory.

Hill, who reached on a walk, scored on a RBI single by Thompson. Fulmer, who reached on a walk, tied the game and Thompson scored the go-ahead run on a clutch two-run double to left-center field by Willoughby.

The Falcons return to action Tuesday, Feb. 26 with a trip to Birmingham to face Miles College in a non-conference game at historic Rickwood Field. First pitch is set for noon.

Montevallo returns home with a non-conference game Wednesday, Feb. 27 against Trevecca Nazarene University at Kermit A. Johnson Field. First pitch is set for 2 p.m.