By Joshua J. Darling, Sports Information Director
DEMOREST, Ga. – No. 9/9 LaGrange (22-9, 9-2 CCS) would fall victim to sustained offensive rallies in both games at Piedmont (18-12, 5-5 CCS) as they dropped 7-2 and 10-3 decisions in an NCAA Division III baseball doubleheader on Saturday, April 15.
GAME 1: PIEDMONT 7, LAGRANGE 2
Neither team would come out strong offensively as they combined for just two hits over the first two innings before PU scratched a run in the home half of the third. That would come in the form of Nathan Mix getting plunked to leadoff the inning, moving to second on a sacrifice bunt and third on a wild pitch. Carter Ballstadt then reached on an error, bring Mix home for a 1-0 lead.
It would be short-lived, however, as sophomore outfielder Jorge Fragoso (East Point, Ga.) and freshman outfielder Curt Bonner (Cartersville, Ga.) drew walks sandwiched around an out. Following a pop out, junior designated hitter Jared Aldridge (Carrollton, Ga.) poked a single through the infield to score Fragoso and knot it up at 1-1.
From there, however, it would be all Lions as they scored six runs over the final three innings, beginning with a pair in the sixth. Scott Lyon would come up with the bases loaded and one out and proceeded to rip a two-RBI single for a 3-1 lead. They would tack on another run the following inning when Kolton Hicks doubled with one out, took third on a wild pitch and scored on a Tyler Nelson sac fly.
The Panthers would scratch back to within 4-2 as Bonner singled to lead off the inning, went to third on a double by junior catcher David Smigelski (Canton, Ga.) and scored on a wild pitch. The Lions would quell and thoughts of a comeback though as they plated three runs on two hits in the home half for a 7-2 lead. A 1-2-3 top of the ninth would then lock that in as the final.
Lyon led Piedmont with two RBIs while Hicks doubled home a run and Nelson notched one with a sac fly. Isaak Mullanack went a 2-for-4 day that included an RBI and run and Trace Cate rounded out the offense at 2-for-4 with a pair of runs. Bodie Eilertson delivered an impressive seven innings, allowing a pair of earned runs and scattered six hits against three strikeouts to move to 7-1.
Aldridge had the lone RBI for the Panthers, going 2-for-4 while Smigelski doubled and Bonner and Fragoso each scored a run. Junior pitcher Ethan Fry (Kennesaw, Ga.) produced a solid outing as he went seven innings, surrendering just two earned runs and struck out five but would be on the wrong end of the decision as he fell to 4-2.
GAME 2: PIEDMONT 10, LAGRANGE 3
LaGrange would take the early lead in the nightcap, pulling ahead 1-0 on an RBI double by freshman first baseman Brody Hollingsworth (Powder Springs, Ga.) but the Lions would roar to life with a run in the third and fourth before putting up a four-spot in the fifth.
A Nelson double would do the damage in the third and Mullanack singled home the run in the fourth before a Carson Strovinaskas triple emptied the bases in the fifth. On top of those three RBIs, Mix would then reach on an error to score Strovinskas for a 6-1 lead.
The Panthers would cut that deficit in half in the seventh when freshman shortstop Jackson McElvy (Kennesaw, Ga.) scored on an error by the left fielder and Smigelski drew a bases loaded walk. That would be as close as they would get, however, as a three-run seventh and an insurance run in the eighth would set Piedmont up to pull off the 10-3 victory.
Strovinaskas powered the Lions offense with four RBIs and a triple while Ballstadt went 2-for-4 with a double, two RBIs and a run scored. Nelson plated a pair and Mullanack was 2-for-4 with a walk, RBI and two runs to cap the offense. Zeke Swartz would pick up the win behind 6.1 innings of three-run ball to move to 4-1.
Hollingsworth would led the way for LaGrange as he went 2-for-5 with a double and RBI and Smigelski finished with the other RBI and a walk. Fragoso went 3-for-4 and senior outfielder Rhett Mixon (Loganville, Ga.) was 2-for-5 with a run. Junior pitcher Dalton Brooks (Sharpsburg, Ga.) toed the rubber for the Panthers and rang up seven while allowing just two runs in four innings. He would get tagged with the loss, however, to fall to 2-2.
LaGrange wraps up the now critical three-game set at Piedmont tomorrow, Sunday, April 16. First pitch is slated for 1 p.m. in Demorest, Georgia.