Mars Hill Bible (29-16) has staff ace Thomas Burrows, who will pitch at Alabama next year, available for six innings of the third game. Blanchard said he would decide this morning between senior Collin Bradley and junior Tyler Lusk.
Trailing1-0, Mars Hill opened the bottom of the sixth inning with a walk and a base hit, putting runners on second and first with no outs. A bunt attempt by Drew Black moved Glenn Irby to third base but Piedmont pitcher Dillon Terry threw to second, forcing Colby Smith. A routine fly ball to left field produced the second out.
With the Panthers’ No. 7 hitter Logan Foote behind in the count 1-2, Black broke from first toward second then stopped halfway between the two bases.
“Coach had been telling us that they would try late steals and double steals and we had practiced it during the week so we’d be ready for something like that,” Terry said.
Terry took a few steps toward Black before Irby headed toward home from third.
“I was waiting and as soon as I heard him yell, ‘Home,’ I just turned around and threw it, hoping I threw it somewhere near there,” Terry said.
Terry’s throw and Irby arrived at the plate at almost the same moment. Catcher Matt Strott made the tag but Irby’s slide took Strott’s glove hand out of the plate umpire’s view. When Strott showed his mitt, with the ball, Irby was out and the threat ended.
“I had the ball the whole time. I knew that he was going to be out,” Strott said.
The Panthers went quietly in the seventh, as Terry struck out two batters around a ground out to second baseman Caleb Adams. Terry finished with eight strikeouts. He walked four and allowed just three hits.
Smith allowed only one hit and one walk, an intentional pass to Payton Young in the seventh inning, but was the hard-luck loser.
The Bulldogs went down in order in each of the first three innings. Cade Bradley started the fourth with a clean single through the box and into centerfield. Strott’s sacrifice bunt pushed Bradley into scoring position at second. Mars Hill shortstop J.T. Hudson had to dive to glove Cass McCord’s sharply hit ground ball but Hudson’s throw to first was off the mark and Bradley scored.
“We won a big game but I’m still discouraged because we should be going home with two wins right now,” Blanchard said following the second game. “We just didn’t finish. We were up 3-0 and we just didn’t finish. We didn’t play well in the field, had a couple of throwing errors. We had a chance to put it away. We just didn’t.”
The loss squandered a stellar outing on the mound by Cade Bradley who struck out 10 Panthers.
Two runs in the second inning put Piedmont on the scoreboard first. With two down and runners at third and second, Lusk fell behind 0-2 then drilled a single up the middle to score Collin Bradley and Adams. In the third, Cade Bradley reached on an infield error. A base hit to right by Strott moved Bradley to third and he scored on Young’s sacrifice fly, putting the Bulldogs up 3-0.
The score did not change until the top of the fifth. Two singles then a pair of two-out doubles, aided by Piedmont throwing mistakes, produced three Mars Hill runs. Irby, a left-hander headed to Mississippi State on a baseball scholarship next fall, opened the seventh with a home run that easily cleared the fence in right.
Irby started and pitched the first six innings. He allowed three hits, none after the third inning. Burrows, another lefty, retired the Bulldogs in order in the seventh.