DAHLONEGA, GA – The North Georgia baseball team had to rally in their season opener on Saturday evening, scoring five runs in the sixth inning to come from behind and defeat Mars Hill College 7-6 at Bob Stein Stadium in non-conference action.
The story of the game came in the sixth inning as the Saints found themselves trailing by four runs, but Kenny Bellavance started things off and walked, and North Georgia came alive, pounding out four straight hits to bring the crowd to life.
Following a Brad Hall single down the left field line, Dustin Carpenter drilled a double into the gap in left center, bringing Bellavance around to score and making it a 6-3 game. Troy Snitker continued the rally and doubled over the head of Mars Hill centerfielder Brandon King, sending two more runs racing to the plate and pulling the Saints to within a run.
Mars Hill would go to the bullpen and call on Tyler Stephenson, but Daniel Warzon had an answer at the plate, lining a single to left field and sending Snitker home to knot the score at 6-6. Terrell Jones capped off the inning, singling to centerfield to plate Warzon, a base knock that turned out to be game-winning hit in a 7-6 victory.
Snitker gave North Georgia a 1-0 lead in the third inning, leading off and belting his first home run of the year, a blast down the left field line to give the Saints an early edge.
North Georgia mounted another rally in the fifth frame, putting a pair of runners on before Derek Hooper connected on a perfect sacrifice bunt to move two runners into scoring position for Terrell Jones to drive in another run and give the Saints a 2-0 lead.
Blake Hobby was cruising on the mound into the sixth inning when the defense collapsed, committing four errors in the field to help Mars Hill plate six runs on five hits. Brandon King had the key hit, sending a bases clearing double down the left field line as Mars Hill took a 6-2 lead, setting up the Saints' five runs in the bottom half of the frame to send North Georgia to a one-run victory.
Andrew Wallace picked up the win in relief, going 1.2 innings and allowing no runs on one hit. Jacob Rickett was lights out at the end of the night, striking out all four batters he faced to pick up the save. Hobby got the start and lasted 5.1 innings, allowing six hits and no earned runs, while striking out four.
The Saints and Lions will wrap up the weekend series on Sunday afternoon with a doubleheader slated to start at 12:00 p.m. Every pitch of both games can be followed with live video and live in-game statistics at SaintsSports.com.