Smith's Pitching, Scots' Hitting Highlights Doubleheader Sweep

Will Carlton (Photo Credit: Anna Dove/Sports Information)
Will Carlton (Photo Credit: Anna Dove/Sports Information)

LOOKOUT MOUNTAIN -- The Covenant baseball team found the right formula of good pitching, solid defense and timely hitting to sweep Greensboro out of a Saturday afternoon doubleheader with twin scores of 9-3 in both games.

The wins gave Covenant its first USA South series sweep of the season and second three-game sweep of the year overall.

Will Carlton had a home run among his four hits, four runs scored, and five RBIs on the two games as Covenant (14-17, 10-11 USA South) pounded out 27 hits between the two games.

On defense, the Scots held the Greensboro (11-22, 10-17 USA South) offense to five earned runs on 14 hits while turning three double plays and flashing the leather with some pretty plays in the field.

Game 1: Covenant 9, Greensboro 3

The Scots jumped on Greensboro early with three runs in the bottom of the first inning, all of which came with two outs. Scott Gillespie got things started by singling to center. Caleb Bloye followed with an infield single to put runners on first and second. Carlton followed with an RBI single and Perry Rigby hit a two-run double to give Covenant four straight hits after two were out.

Carlton added to the Covenant lead in the bottom of the third with two more RBIs, this time on a double down the left field line. Gillespie and Bloye scored, giving the Scots a 5-0 lead.

After the Pride made it 5-1 in the top of the fourth inning, Covenant added two more runs without recording an RBI to stretch the lead to 7-1. Luke Harvey scored on a wild pitch and KC Simons made his way home on a double play grounder.

Jonah Paul started the game for the Scots and pitched into the sixth inning, holding Greensboro to just four hits. Paul started to tire in the sixth, however, and was removed in favor of Taylor Bloye with one run in, one out, and the bases loaded.

Bloye walked the first batter he faced to drive in a run, but was able to retire the next two hitters he faced to escape further damage.

Covenant added two more insurance tallies in the bottom of the eighth inning to make it 9-3. A single by Simons drove in both runs.

Bloye closed things out, pitching the final 3.2 innings to seal the win for Paul (4-3) and record his first save of the season.

Harvey went 3-for-3 with a walk and two runs scored. He also had a double, which was one of four for the Scots. Carlton had two hits and three RBIs, and Simons drove in two with a run on two hits.

Covenant tagged Kristopher Peeden (1-6) with the loss. Peeden went the distance, giving up nine runs in eight innings. Peeden gave up 14 hits and threw 136 pitches.

Game 2: Covenant 9, Greensboro 3

The second game of the twin bill was much the same as the first. Covenant scored early, this time in the second inning, and had a comfortable lead for the duration.

After Covenant scored once in the second, an unearned run after Carlton reached on an error and eventually scored on a single by Andrew Beck, Greensboro tied the score in the top of the third with an unearned tally of its own, making it 1-1.

In the third, another error by the Pride opened things up for the Scots, who took advantage to score five times in the inning, three of which were earned. Carlton, Rigby, and Alex Kerr strung together back-to-back-to-back RBI singles after Simons scored on an error to break the tie. A sacrifice fly by Andrew Beck made it 6-1.

After the third, the two teams traded scoreless frames in the fourth, fifth, and sixth innings before the Scots struck for three more in the seventh inning. Carlton led off the inning with his second home run of the season, a deep fly ball that cleared the fence in left center. Rigby nearly went back-to-back with Carlton, but his drive was caught up against the left field fence.

After Kerr walked with one out and advanced to second on a wild pitch, Jay Epperson drove him in with a single to right before Simons followed with his second double of the game to make it 9-1. The hit for Epperson was the first of his career.

The Scots' offense was led by Simons and Carlton, who combined for five hits, four runs, three extra base hits, and three RBIs. Josh Evans (1-2) lasted only 2.1 innings for the Pride against Covenant's attack, giving up six runs, three earned, on seven hits.

All that support was more than enough for Covenant starter Spencer Smith. Smith pounded the strike zone all game and was very effective, continuously inducing Greensboro hitters into weak groundballs on the infield, especially over to third basemen Rigby. Rigby set a program record with assists on 11 ground balls as 18 of the 27 outs Smith recorded in his complete-game were courtesy of the ground ball.

Smith (1-0) ran into a little trouble in the eighth, giving up two runs, but settled down to get his first win of the season and first complete-game of his career. The senior allowed nine hits and three runs, walking one and striking out one while throwing only 94 pitches for the game.

The Scots will try to match their season-high win streak of five games when they host Emory at 4 p.m. on Tuesday.

Be sure to follow the Scots all season long on athletics.covenant.edu and on social media at FacebookTwitter and Instagram for up-to-date scores, news and other information.