LOOKOUT MOUNTAIN-- The Covenant baseball team continued their recent struggles in a Saturday doubleheader against conference opponent Maryville, dropping both games, 9-5 and 8-0.
Covenant has now dropped six in a row and 11 of 12 to fall to 7-12 on the season and 4-7 in USA South play. Maryville moves to 17-7 with their fourth victory in a row and is just a half game out of second place in the conference with a 13-7 mark.
Game 1: Maryville 9, Covenant 5
Maryville's Nick Dean hit a tiebreaking grand slam in the top of the ninth as the visiting Scots held off a late rally from Covenant for a 9-5 win in game one.
After each team went scoreless in the first inning, Maryville touched Covenant starter Garrett Kriston for two runs in the top of the second after he walked two batters to start the inning. Both came around to score on Greg Vourloumis' one-out, two-run single to center.
Covenant got onto the board in its half of the inning on Luke Harvey's RBI fielder's choice grounder and had a chance for more, but Scott Gillespie lined out to left field with two on and two down to end the threat.
Maryville came back in the top half of the third to score three times on four hits, a passed ball, and a wild pitch.
From there, Kriston was able to settle in, throwing up zeroes until the beginning of the seventh inning, when he was taken out in favor of Taylor Bloye and Covenant was still trailing 5-1.
Bloye got the top of the order out for Maryville in the seventh and in the bottom half Covenant was finally able to get through to Maryville starting pitcher Seth Debity. Covenant scored two runs to cut the lead in half and prompt Maryville to go to the bullpen in the middle of the inning. Gillespie and Caleb Bloye each had an RBI in the inning.
In the bottom of the eighth and trailing 5-3, Covenant put together another rally to tie the score off Maryville lefty Evan Heffner. Will Cleland singled to left to drive in Perry Rigby and eventually scored himself on a wild pitch to make it 5-5 heading into the final inning.
In the ninth, Taylor Bloye got into trouble after cruising through his first two innings and giving up just one hit while striking out three.
Bloye gave up a double, a bunt single, and then a walk without getting a batter out and bringing reigning USA South Player of the Year Nick Dean to the plate. Dean drove one out to right-center for a grand slam and a 9-5 lead. Covenant put a couple of runners on board in the bottom of the ninth, but Maryville closer Tyler Hopkins got out of the jam for the win.
K.C. Simons went 3-for-4 out of the leadoff spot, with a run scored and a walk. Cleland and Caleb Bloye each had two hits and an RBI for Covenant.
Kriston went six innings, surrendering six hits and five runs with four walks and six strikeouts. Debity gave up just two earned runs on eight hits in 6.1 innings. Heffner (2-0) got the win despite giving up two runs in 1.2 innings on two hits. Taylor Bloye (1-1) was tagged with the loss after pitching three innings and surrendering the game-winning grand slam to Dean, who ended the game with five RBIs.
Game 2: Maryville 8, Covenant 0
In the second game of the doubleheader, Covenant was stymied by the pitching of Jeremy Ibarra and Maryville pounded out 16 hits in an easy victory.
Covenant starter Micah Mabe (2-3) was roughed up from the outset, giving up seven earned runs in 5.1 innings. Maryville's Dean kept up his hot hitting with three more hits, including a double, and two more RBIs. Austin Watters and Jacob Frost each went 3-for-4 with a run scored and two RBIs.
On the other side, Covenant was held to just six hits against starter Ibarra (5-1) and relievers Joe Jones and Zack May. Ibarra went seven innings and allowed five hits with two walks and two strikeouts.
Scott Gillespie had two hits, including a double, to stretch his hitting streak to six games. Alex Kerr also had a double and two hits overall for the game.
Covenant will try to salvage one game in their series against Maryville when they make up their postponed game from Friday on Monday, March 23 at Maryville. The two teams will begin play at 7 p.m. and Covenant will be the home team.