FERRUM, Va. -- The Covenant baseball team squandered a seven-run lead in game one of Friday's doubleheader with Ferrum, but rebounded behind two home runs and a strong performance on the mound from Jonah Paul to split with the host Panthers. Ferrum rallied to take game one 9-8 before Covenant evened the three-game series with a 5-1 win in game two.
Covenant goes to 10-16 on the year with the split and 7-10 inside the USA South. Ferrum goes to 18-12 on the year and 13-10 in league play.
It was the first meetings of the two teams that tied for the USA South regular season title last season. Covenant won the league's automatic berth to the NCAA Tournament by virtue of taking two of three from the Panthers in last year's regular season series.
Game 1: Ferrum 9, Covenant 8
Covenant took an 8-1 lead entering the bottom of the fifth, but Ferrum rallied and took the lead on Matt Reynolds' two-run home run in the seventh inning giving the Panthers a 9-8 victory.
Things looked good early on for the Scots as they scored single runs in the first and third innings to take a 2-0 lead. KC Simons walked and later scored on an error after Caleb Bloye's single in the first inning. In the third, Will Cleland doubled, stole third and scored on an errant throw from the Ferrum catcher to make it 2-0.
The Scots extended the lead to 6-0 with four runs in the fourth. Covenant took advantage of three Ferrum errors, but also received a two-run single from Kyle Delk and an RBI double from Scott Gillespie in the inning.
Ferrum got a run back in its half of the fourth, but Covenant stretched the lead to 8-1 with two more runs in the top of the fifth. Will Carlton led off with a triple and scored on Perry Rigby's RBI single. Luke Harvey capped the inning with an RBI single to plate Rigby giving the Scots a seven-run cushion.
Ferrum answered with four runs in the fifth and four more in the seventh to grab the lead. Lane Deaver drove in two runs with a single in the fifth to highlight the frame. In the seventh, Hank Parsley made it 8-7 with a two-run double before Reynolds' two-out, two-run homer gave the Panthers the lead.
Jake Perkins (4-1) picks up the win for Ferrum as he went seven innings and allowed eight runs, three earned, on eight hits with six strikeouts. Jared Talley notched his sixth save of the year. Ferrum made seven errors, five coming from the third baseman alone.
Micah Mabe started for the Scots and lasted six innings. The lefty surrendered three earned runs and struck out five. Taylor Bloye (1-3) gets the loss. Caleb Bloye went 2-for-5 to lead the Scots' eight-hit attack.
Game 2: Covenant 5, Ferrum 1
Gillespie homered and drove in three runs and Paul pitched seven strong innings to lead Covenant to a 5-1 victory and secure a doubleheader split.
Paul (3-3) tied a career-best by tossing seven innings and he allowed just one run on five hits while striking out two and walking two. Paul also picked off two runners at first. Alec Mitchell threw the final two innings to pick up his third save of the year.
Gillespie got the scoring going in the first with his third home run of the year, a two-run blast that plated Simons, giving Covenant a 2-0 lead. Gillespie came through again in his next at-bat as he doubled home Simons in the third inning to make it 3-0.
Gillespie finished 3-for-4 with a a homer, two doubles and three RBIs.
After Ferrum cut the lead to 3-1 in the fifth, Covenant got the run back in the sixth. After the first two batters were retired, Carlton doubled and later scored on Rigby's RBI single to give the Scots a 4-1 edge.
Harvey made it 5-1 in the ninth with his first career home run. Harvey had two hits on the day.
Javin Metz (0-3) receives the loss for Ferrum as he allowed four runs on six hits in 5.2 innings.
Game three of the series will take place on Saturday. First pitch is set for 1 p.m. at Panther Field.