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Baseball Scots See Rallies Fall Short in Losses at Averett

Will Cleland (left), Will Carlton (right) (photo credit: Anna Dove/Sports Information)
Will Cleland (left), Will Carlton (right) (photo credit: Anna Dove/Sports Information)

DANVILLE, Va. -- The Covenant baseball team rallied in both games of Friday's doubleheader at Averett, but the host Cougars came out victorious in both games. Averett took game one 7-6 before taking the nightcap 12-7.

Covenant drops to 14-23 overall on the year and 10-16 in the USA South. Averett goes to 25-12 and 19-10 inside the conference.

Game 1: Averett 7, Covenant 6

In game one, Covenant fell behind early, rallied to tie the score, only to see Averett score three times in the bottom of the eighth to pull out a 7-6 victory in Friday's first game.

Covenant struck first with a run in the top of the first inning. Will Carlton tripled to left center and scored on Caleb Bloye's sacrifice fly one batter later for a 1-0 lead.

In the bottom of the inning, Averett responded with a two-run double off the bat of Nic Futrell to give the Cougars the lead. Another pair of runs in the third gave Averett a 4-1 lead. Kevin Hundley hit a home run off Covenant starter Micah Mabe immediately after a leadoff double.

Mabe settled down after the homer, putting up scoreless frames through the seventh, but the Scots were unable to get anything going offensively in those innings. Averett starting pitcher Taylor Davis allowed just two hits between the second and sixth innings.

Heading into the seventh and down 4-1, the Covenant offense began to show signs of life. Alex Kerr led off the inning with a single and was followed by a Perry Rigby double putting runners at second and third. Z Arima drove Kerr in with a sacrifice fly and Will Cleland stroked an opposite field double to left, making the score 4-3.

Covenant's chances of tying the score in the inning were ended when Cleland, who had stolen third, was cut down at the plate trying to score on Devin Cerrato's infield bouncer with one away.

An RBI single in the eighth by Kerr did tie the score, but the deadlock was short-lived as Averett came back with three runs in the bottom of the frame. Futrell singled to drive in Davis and make it 7-4 going into Covenant's final at-bat.

The Scots made it interesting, with a little help from the Averett pitcher. Brandon Goff, after giving up a leadoff single and then a fielder's choice grounder, then proceeded to walk the next three batters and force in a run.

After Goff was replaced by Drew Evans with one out and the bases loaded, Scott Gillespie hit a sacrifice fly, Covenant's third of the game, to pull the Scots to within one at 7-6. With runners on first and third, Covenant attempted a steal a run but Carlton was thrown out on the game's final play.

Covenant had 11 hits, spread between eight different hitters, while five combined for the six runs batted in. Bloye had a single and drove in two while Cleland, Arima, and Kerr each had a pair of hits and an RBI.

Mabe (4-5) went the distance throwing 117 pitches, 85 for strikes, in presumably his final collegiate appearance on the mound.

Goff (2-0), despite his struggles in the ninth, gets the win while Evans recorded his third save of the year.

Game 2: Averett 12, Covenant 7

Covenant trailed 8-1 heading into the eighth inning, but the Scots rallied to cut the deficit to one run before Averett hung on for a 12-7 victory and a twinbill sweep.

KC Simons had two hits in five at-bats with an RBI while Kerr and Cleland each drove in two runs as Covenant scred seven runs in eight hits in the defeat.

Trailing 8-1 in the eighth, Kerr doubled home Gillespie and Bloye to cut the deficit to 8-3 with one out in the inning. Andrew Beck followed and reached on an error that enabled pinch-runner Joel Johnson to scamper home making it 8-4. Two batters later, Cleland delivered a two-out, two-run double to center that scored Harvey and Beck. Simons followed with an RBI single to cut the margin to 8-7.

But Averett answered back in its half of the inning as Kevin Alvarez homered for the second time in the contest, a two-run shot to left field, and the Cougars would tack on two more runs for the final tally.

Starter Spencer Smith (1-2) gets the loss as he went five innings. Averett starter TJ Viracola (4-4) went six innings and allowed one unearned run to pick up the victory. Goff gets credit for the save as he came on with the bases loaded in the ninth to get the final out.

Covenant will hope the forecasted rain holds off long enough for it to play the final game of the three-game series with Averett on Saturday. The game is scheduled to start at noon.

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