NEWBERRY, S.C. � Entering the bottom of the ninth inning down eight runs, the Newberry College baseball team had fans and opposing sixth-ranked West Virginia State University holding their breath. The Indians scored four runs with two away and had the potential go-ahead run at the plate with two aboard before the Yellowjackets secured the final out and claimed a 14-12 victory at the Newberry High School baseball field.
West Virginia State improves to 17-2 on the season, while Newberry falls to 6-26-1 overall.
Leading 8-6 going into the ninth, State strung together a six-run inning, four of those coming from two-RBI doubles from both Tyler Courts (Milton, W.Va.) and Ryan Taylor (Morgantown, W.Va.). Kyle Jones (Pottstown, Pa.) accounted for the other two runs with a rocket over the left center field fence.
Newberry�s resiliency showed in the bottom of the inning, getting base hits or walks from seven batters. State went through four pitchers in the inning, allowing six Indian runs. Five of the first six batters reached base, and Brandon Brown (Starr, S.C.) scored on a wild pitch while Chris Rahal (Vero Beach, Fla.) came home on a Brandon Gardner (Gaffney, S.C.) RBI single. Fellow Gaffney native Anthony Dillenger sacrificed to center to score Matt Awtrey (Columbia, S.C.). Kris Garcia (Miami, Fla.) came through with the two-out RBI to plate Carlos Pupo (Boynton Beach, Fla.) and later scored himself on a wild pitch. With runners on second and third, WVSU reliever Willis Brandenburg (Middletown, Md.) got Rahal to dribble one back to him for the final putout.
Newberry took an early 2-0 lead in the first with a Brown RBI single and a run from Joel Keefe (Andover, Mass.) after a passed ball, but it would last less than two innings. State exploded for six in the third, with back-to-back homers from Jeff Miller (Pinegrove, Pa.) and Jones accounting for half of the scoring. The Indians produced a pair of two-run innings in the fourth and fifth, Dillenger driving in three of those. West Virginia State scored single runs in the fifth and sixth, the only runs that Newberry could not match.
The Yellowjackets had 16 hits to the Indians� 13. Eleven players had a multi-hit game; Newberry�s Brown and WVSU�s Josh Miller (Cottageville, W.Va.) had three each. Dillenger drove in four runs to lead all players.
Both coaches planned to use a pitcher per inning, with State�s Cal Bailey sticking to the plan through eight innings. Newberry head coach Bob Rikeman did so into the third inning, where three pitchers worked to stop the Yellowjacket offensive explosion. Nick Loden (Wesley Chapel, Fla.) threw for 2 1/3 and Gary Hersey (Key West, Fla.) went for 3 1/3 innings for the longest stays on the mound. Zach Leskanic (Barberton, Ohio) was awarded the win as the most effective State pitcher for his 1-2-3 sixth inning with one strikeout.
Newberry will return to action Saturday at 3 p.m. against Wingate University. West Virginia State will begin a doubleheader at noon at Bluefield State on Saturday.