THOMASVILLE, Ga. – The Spring Hill College baseball team opened the 2012 season at Thomas University (Ga.) on Tuesday afternoon by splitting a doubleheader as the Night Hawks rallied to take an 8-7 win in the opener and the Badgers rebounded to win the second game 5-3.
The Badgers scratched first in the top of the 2nd inning in Game 1 when designated hitter freshman Ryan Stevens of Theodore, Ala., led off with a double down the left field line that was followed by an RBI single past the Night Hawk shortstop by senior left fielder Kendell Carvin from Mobile's Murphy High School.
The Night Hawks (3-2) answered in the bottom of the frame with a run-scoring single up the middle by Harrison Wood, but Badger pitcher Casey Adams was bailed out of a bases-loaded jam with a 4-6-3 double play to end the threat.
Stevens provided another big blow for Spring Hill in the 3rd inning when he ripped a 3-run double deep to right-center that staked SHC to a 4-1 advantage.
Thomas tied the game in the 5th inning with a 3-run blast over the left field fence by right fielder Chris Cravotta off Adams, but Spring Hill rallied to take a 5-4 lead in the 7th inning when senior shortstop Ryan Cummings' grounder to the infield was thrown away by TU shortstop Alex Williams allowing SHC second baseman Brian Sims to scamper home from second base.
A second Nighthawk error in the frame was followed by another Carvin RBI single to left field as SHC took a 7-4 lead into the game's final half inning.
Two Night Hawk singles and two walks in the bottom of the 7th made it a 7-5 SHC lead with no outs and the bases loaded when TU first baseman Jessie Piccolo lifted a sacrifice fly to right to make it 7-6 with runners at first and third for SHC reliever, freshman Jack Howard of Decatur, Ala.
TU third baseman Chris Weaver would tie the game with a sacrifice fly that plated Cravotta and the Night Hawks then won the game when SHC sophomore third baseman Alex Summers from Mobile's Baker High School threw away an infield grounder off the bat of Sergio DelGado that resulted in the winning run in the form of pinch hitter Brett White scoring from second base.
Howard (0-1) took the loss in 1.2 innings of work and allowed three hits with two walks. Kurtis Mancauskas was the TU winner in relief with four hits, two strikeouts and no walks in four innings.
For the Badgers, Carvin had two hits with two RBI while Stevens' two doubles scored three runs and Sims also added two hits.
Along with Cravotta's homer, Williams and Weaver each collected two hits for Thomas.
In the nightcap, Thomas grabbed an early 1-0 lead in the 1st inning when Williams' sacrifice fly off SHC starter junior Michael Moch of Cumming, Ga., scored centerfielder Joey Kampfer.
The Badgers tied the game in the 4th inning with a double to left field by Summers that brought senior right fielder Wayne Huell of Warrensburg, Mo., around from first base. Later in the frame, a passed ball by the Thomas catcher scored Summers and Cummings followed with a single past third base to bring in sophomore centerfield Alex Bumb of St. Louis, Mo., making it 3-1 in Spring Hill's favor.
Despite trailing 1-0 through the first three innings, Moch went hitless through five innings before allowing a triple to Kampfer to lead off the 6th inning. Kampfer would later score off a passed ball to make it a 3-2 ballgame.
SHC added a 2-run double by Summers for insurance in the top of the 7th inning and a 5-2 advantage.
Junior reliever David Dupuy of Mobile's McGill-Toolen Catholic High School loaded the bases with one out in the 7th via a single and two walks before a sacrifice fly to right and a fly ball to center gave him his first save of the year.
Huell had three hits while Cummings and Summers each picked up two hits in the second game. Moch (1-0) went six innings in his SHC debut, allowing just two hits and no earned runs with three walks and nine strikeouts.
Neal Hunter took the loss for Thomas in five innings of relief with six hits, three walks and five strikeouts.
Spring Hill (1-1) will next open its 2012 home slate on Friday evening at historic Stan Galle Field versus Blue Mountain College (0-3) at 5 p.m.