LOOKOUT MOUNTAIN -- On an unseasonably cold and windy afternoon, the Covenant baseball team fell behind early and could not recover as they fell to 11th-ranked Birmingham Southern 16-10.
Covenant (21-11) fell behind 16-3 before cutting the deficit to 16-10 in the eighth inning and had the bases loaded in the ninth. The win for the visiting Panthers (28-9), ranked 11th in the latest d3baseball.com Top 25, means a season sweep of the Scots.
Birmingham Southern scored four runs in the second inning, all coming on Mason Tritt's grand slam, and then added three unearned runs in the third to build a 7-0 advantage. Covenant got on the board in its half of the third on Scott Gillespie's RBI single that plated Will Cleland to make it 7-1.
In the fourth inning, Covenant cut the deficit to 7-3 with a pair of runs. KC Simons singled home pinch-runner Stephen Kegley with the inning's first run and Gillespie drove in his second run of the day with a fielder's choice.
Birmingham Southern scored a run in the fifth, four more in the sixth, three in the seventh and one more in the eighth to extend its lead to 16-3. The Scots scored six unearned runs in the bottom of the eighth to cut the gap to 16-9.
Julien Amorelli produced an RBI groundout in the eighth that was followed by an Andrew Beck run-scoring single and a Chris Rollins grand slam. Rollins' homer, his second of the year, came with two outs and went over the scoreboard in left field.
In the ninth, Forrest Hunter led off the inning with his first collegiate homer, a solo shot to left field, to bring the Scots to within 16-10. Covenant would load the bases later in the inning, but could not do more damage.
Simons was the only Scot to tally multiple hits as he went 2-for-5 with a run scored. Gillespie went 1-for-4 with two RBIs, while Rollins was also 1-for-4 with four RBIs. Covenant starter Jordan Lester (4-3) allowed four runs in two innings of work. Six relievers combined to throw the final seven innings.
David Bourbonnais and Tritt each had four RBIs to lead the Panthers. Bourbonnais went 5-for-6 while Tritt was 2-for-5. Starting pitcher Ryan Gaines went three innings before being relieved. Wilson Jamison (2-0) gets the win after throwing 1.2 scoreless innings.
The Scots will be back in action on Friday when they open up a three-game USA South series at Maryville. Friday's game starts at 7 p.m. followed by a doubleheader on Saturday.