Bishop Baseball Ends Season at USAS Tourney
Burlington, N.C. - North Carolina Wesleyan saw its 2012 baseball season come to an end at this weekend's USA South Conference Tournament. The Bishops dropped their opening round game to Shenandoah on Thursday, 5-3, but rebounded for a solid 3-0 shutout of Greensboro on Friday morning. Unfortunately, Friday evening saw Wesleyan eliminated from the tourney via a heartbreaking 9-8 decision to Averett in extra innings.
In Friday's opener, 2nd-seeded Shenandoah downed the 7th-seeded Bishops by a 5-3 score. The Hornets wasted little time getting on the board as leadoff hitter Joey Donofrio deposited starting pitcher Brandon Roberts' (4-4) first offering over the right field fence.
The homerun was one of three that the Hornets hit on the day – Jake Pendergraft led off the fourth to the deepest part of the park in left center before freshman Corbin Lucas had a solo shot to start off the eighth.
SU needed Pendergraft's dinger as the Bishops had crossed one run in the second and one in third, the latter a Hayden Williams solo homer off the right field foul pole. Previously in the second, Pat Laffin, who had a game-high three hits, ripped a leadoff double to center, was balked to third and scored on a wild pitch.
Shenandoah's Nick McMahon (6-0), making his first start against a conference opponent, gave up three runs on five hits in 8.0 innings before turning it over to freshman Matt Riegler.
The loss dropped the Bishops into an elimination game versus Greensboro on Friday morning. Shane Flynn (3-2) turned in a quality start en route to the win, allowing just three hits and striking out six in 6.2 innings of work.
Wesleyan's first two runs came early in the contest as the Bishops' first four batters reached safely. Tyler Clark led off with a double and advanced to third on a single by Jake Alexander. Laffin then drove in Clark with a single to right center before Andre' Nichols plated Alexander with a ground ball through the right side. Clark later added an RBI-double in the seventh to extend the lead to 3-0.
Flynn combined with Hatteras Brooks to help the lead stand up. Brooks pitched 2.1 innings, allowing just one hit and striking out one for the save.
The Bishops wrapped up Friday with a second elimination game versus Averett University. NCWC erased a 4-0 deficit to force extra innings, and then looked to be in control after going up 8-4 in the 10th.
The Cougars, however, drew three straight walks to open their half of the frame, and after a two-run double cut the deficit in half, AU's Cody Moore hit a walk-off three-run homer to stun the Bishop faithful.
Laffin, Williams, Stephen Machin and Brad Guengerich had two hits apiece for the Bishops, while Clark tallied two RBIs to finish with a team-high 32 on the year. For his efforts, Laffin was named to the All-Tournament team.
With the loss, Wesleyan ended the season with a 16-25-1 overall record.