– 19th-ranked North Georgia erased a four-run first-inning
deficit on Saturday afternoon, but came up short as Flagler’s
pair of ninth inning runs gave the visiting Saints a 7-5 victory in
game two of the 2010 Peach Belt Conference Baseball Tournament at
Lake Olmstead Stadium.
Flagler College (29-22) wins their first-ever Peach Belt Conference tournament game and will advance to the semi-final round to face Georgia Southwestern on Sunday morning at 11:00 a.m. at USC Aiken’s Roberto Hernandez Stadium.
North Georgia falls to 34-17 overall on the season and 6-2 all-time in the PBC Tournament. The Saints will now await word on an at-large bid to the 2010 NCAA Southeast Regional. The NCAA will announce the field in a live selection show Sunday evening at 10:00 p.m.
Flagler jumped all over the Saints in the first inning with four runs on as many hits, while batting around and leaving the bases jammed. Will Percy drove in the first run of the game with a seeing-eye single down the right field line to score Cale Owen and make it a 1-0 game.
After Dagmar Pena grounded out to plate the second run of the inning, Jose Rohena singled to left center with the bases loaded, sending two more runners home and capping Flagler’s four-run first inning.
The heart of the order scored the first run of the game for North Georgia as Jordan Erisman led off the inning with a double down the left field line, and Andre Airich followed with a single to right field, putting runners on the corners with no outs. Anders Oster then came to the dish and grounded out to third, sending Erisman racing home and cutting into Flagler’s lead at 4-1.
Some two-out magic in the fifth inning put North Georgia right back in the game as Brad Hall came to the plate with two runners on and laced a two-out double to the gap in right center, sending Oster home from second and Kenny Bellavance racing all the around from first to pull the home Saints to within a run at 4-3.
Both teams traded two-out runs in the seventh inning as Zach Bove singled home Flagler’s run, while Troy Snitker belted a double to the wall in centerfield, sending Bellavance home and making it a 5-4 game.
North Georgia finally pulled even in the eighth inning as Craig Brisson was hit by a pitch to lead off the frame and Airich followed with a single two batters later, but Nate Fudala let the ball go through his legs and all the way to the wall, allowing Brisson to score and Airich to race to third and tie the game 5-5.
Johnny Gaines then went to work on the mound, forcing Oster to groundout to shortstop with the infield in, and Bellavance flied out to right to end the inning and send it to the ninth with the score knotted at 5-5.
Flagler added a two spot in the ninth as the visiting Saints loaded the bases with one out before Jacob Rickett entered the game and forced a grounder up the middle that was scooped by Oster and flipped to Airich at second, but the throw to first was wide of the mark, allowing two runners to race home and give Flagler a 7-5 ninth-inning advantage.
North Georgia managed a leadoff triple from Chad Sage in the ninth, but the junior was stranded on third as Daniel Petitti sent a fly to right field to end the game.
Gaines (9-5) was the winner, tossing the final two innings and allowing a run on two hits while striking out one. Alex Simmons (1-2) was the loser, allowing two runs on two hits in 1.1 innings of work.