By Joshua J. Darling, Sports Information Director
LAGRANGE, Ga. – No. 4 LaGrange (7-3, 0-0 CCS) dropped a 12-3 decision and delivered a 4-3 walk-off in a doubleheader against North Carolina Wesleyan (9-2, 0-0 USA South) in NCAA Division III baseball action on Saturday, March 4.
GAME 1: NORTH CAROLINA WESLEYAN 12, LAGRANGE 3
In a rarity, the Panthers would experience what they normally do to teams as the Battling Bishops pounded out seven runs over the first three innings. Two-RBI doubles by Tyson Bass in the second and Jean Lagreca in the third would be the big blows in that stretch.
LaGrange would get on the board with a pair of runs in the third as junior shortstop Adam Dorn (Canton, Ga.) brought home a run on a foul sacrifice fly and senior third baseman Joe Ruth (Chiefland, Fla.) lined a double down the left field line for the other run.
They would not mount a significant rally, however, and NCWU would put the game out of reach in the seventh with five runs on three hits. An RBI double by Drifton Padgett and two-run homerun by Javier Quintana would fuel that stretch as the Battling Bishops went on to close out a 12-3 decision.
Bass went 2-for-4 with two RBIs, a double, walk and run scored to pace North Carolina Wesleyan while Davie Morgan was 3-for-4 with two runs. Padgett was 3-for-5 with three RBIs, a double and three runs and Lagreca had three RBIs. Quintana rounded out the offense with his homer and two RBIs and Danny Thompson pitched seven innings, allowing three earned runs and picking up the win to move to 2-1.
Ruth led the Panthers with a double and two RBIs as part of a 2-for-3, one walk day and Dorn had the only other RBI. On the hill senior pitcher Baley Coleman (Hiram, Ga.) threw six innings, allowing 12 hits and eight runs to fall to 1-1.
GAME 2: LAGRANGE 4, NORTH CAROLINA WESLEYAN 3
It would be a far different game and result in the nightcap, despite both teams getting on the board in the first. An RBI single by Jackson Hobbs did the honors for NCWU in their half while sophomore outfielder Jorge Fragoso (East Point, Ga.) belted a ball over the right field fence to tie it up.
It would remain that way until the fourth when the Battling Bishops loaded the bases with one out and then took the lead on a wild pitch. They would do no further damage, however, as the Panthers notched a strikeout and fly out.
That would be key as they answered with a pair of runs in the home half of the inning as a triple by junior second baseman Easton Willis (Valdosta, Ga.) and freshman shortstop Jackson McElvy (Kennesaw, Ga.) singled him home to take the lead at 3-2.
Defense and pitching would once again rule the next two innings until Bass led off the seventh with a triple to the right centerfield gap. That set it up for Luke Chung's grounder to second to score him and tie it up at 3-3.
LC would nearly retake the lead in the bottom of the frame as a single by Fragoso and a throwing error moved him to second. Freshman catcher Curt Bonner (Cartersville, Ga.) then singled to right and Fragoso was thrown out trying to score.
A 1-2-3 top of the ninth then put Bonner in position to do damage once again, this time pushing a single through the left side with runners on second and third. That knock would plate McElvy and give the Panthers a thrilling 4-3 victory.
Chung would go 2-for-5 with a run and RBI for North Carolina Wesleyan while Hobbs had the only other RBI. Morgan went 2-for-4 with a double to round out the offense and Payne Stolsworth threw seven innings. He would allow three earned runs and six walks to go with five strikeouts to get the no decision. Clayton Gilmore would throw 1.2 innings of relief and give up the game-winning run to fall to 0-1.
Fragoso would lead LaGrange with a 2-for-5 day that included a homerun, RBI and run scored while Bonner was 2-for-2 with the game-winning RBI. McElvy capped the offense with a 2-for-4 day that came with a run and RBI.
Junior pitcher Dalton Brooks (Sharpsburg, Ga.) pitched 6.1 innings, struck out seven and allowed three earned runs for the no decision and sophomore reliever Ashton Shackelford (Ellerslie, Ga.) earned his first win with a scoreless and hitless ninth that saw him ring up all three batters.
LaGrange is right back in action tomorrow, Sunday, March 5 as they host North Carolina Wesleyan in the rubber game of the series. First pitch is slated for 12 p.m.