HARROGATE, Tenn. – Newberry looked every bit the part of the South Atlantic Conference’s first-place team through the first seven innings of Friday’s series opener at Lincoln Memorial.
Unfortunately for the Wolves, Lincoln Memorial looked the part through the final two.
A seven-run explosion in the seventh inning lifted the Railsplitters to a 10-6 win and helped break a four-way tie atop the league standings during the penultimate weekend of conference play.
The loss dropped Newberry (28-16, 13-6 SAC) into a tie for second-place in the SAC standings. Newberry and Lincoln Memorial (25-16, 14-5 SAC) entered the weekend tied with Tusculum and Catawba atop the conference standings at 13-5. Catawba is visiting the Pioneers while Newberry plays in Harrogate, making this weekend critical to postseason tournament seeding scenarios.
The Catawba vs. Tusculum series opener was in the middle innings at the time of writing, with Tusculum holding a five-run lead.
Lincoln Memorial struggled to get anything going against Newberry starter Zack Kelly through the first seven innings, save for a three-run home run by third baseman Eric Kalman during the sixth that provided the entirety of the Railsplitters’ scoring until their final trip to the plate.
But Lincoln Memorial finally broke through against the Wolves’ pitching staff to earn the come-from-behind win. Kelly allowed the first two men to reach on a single and a walk before being lifted for Dylan Southerland, who gave up a single, a double, and a single to tie the score at six.
The Railsplitters took their first lead of the game in the next at-bat, when a sacrifice fly off Charlie Fessler made the score 7-6. Moments later, a home run by Mason Ewers, LMU’s second three-run blast of the day, stretched the lead to four runs.
The comeback spoiled an impressive day for several Wolves, including would-be hero Cody Ezzell. The senior second baseman laced a two-out, two-run single up the middle in the sixth inning that upped Newberry’s lead to 5-0.
After Ewers’ home run in the bottom of the frame cut the deficit to two, Ezzell upped Newberry’s lead to 6-3 with a one-out double to left center that scored pinch hitter Colin Santiago from second.
Ezzell tied his season high with three RBI’s. Derek Olenchuk was on base in each plate appearance, going 3-for-3 and reaching on a hit by pitch, while Daymon Totherow tallied his ninth multi-RBI game of the season.
While Ezzell helped the Wolves build their advantage into the late innings, Kelly kept Lincoln Memorial at bay into the eighth. The Wolves’ ace did not tally as many strikeouts as a typical outing but kept the Railsplitters at arm’s length nonetheless, scattering nine hits, stranding six runners on base, and getting a pair of double plays from his defense.
The Wolves started the game in impressive fashion, plating a pair of runs on a Totherow double with one out in the first inning.
Newberry and Lincoln Memorial will square off twice tomorrow to conclude the season series. First pitch from Lamar Hennon Field, the final games at the facility before the Railsplitters move into a new stadium next year, is set for 1:00 p.m.