ROCKY MOUNT, N.C. -- The Covenant baseball team dropped both games of Friday's USA South doubleheader at North Carolina Wesleyan. The host Bishops took game one 6-0 before mounting a rally in the late innings in game two for a 12-9 win at Bauer Field.
Covenant drops to 6-11 overall and 1-7 in the USA South, while N.C. Wesleyan improves to 14-5 on the year and 6-2 in league play. The two teams will complete the three-game series on Saturday at noon in Rocky Mount.
GAME ONE: N.C. Wesleyan 6, Covenant 0
Covenant was shut out for just the second time this year as N.C. Wesleyan starter Ryan Grant tossed a complete-game to lead the host Bishops to a 6-0 win in Friday's first game.
The Scots managed just five hits in the contest, led by Julien Amorelli's 2-for-3 effort, but could not breakthrough against Grant. Luke Harvey, Devin Cerrato and Alex Kerr accounted for the other three hits in the loss.
N.C. Wesleyan got on the board with two runs in the first inning as Nate Gardner had an RBI ground out followed by a Tony Sanchez RBI single to make it 2-0. The Bishops added one in the third on Luis Palencia's run-scoring single to give the hosts a 3-0 lead.
The Bishops made it 4-0 in the fourth as a Covenant error allowed Cedrick Kornegay to score. N.C. Wesleyan added two more runs in the fifth on a wild pitch and another Scots error for a 6-0 lead.
Grant (4-0), who leads the USA South in ERA, scattered five hits and two walks over his complete-game effort. The right-hander struck out 10. Offensively, Palencia went 4-for-5 with an RBI, while Brad Pennington, Sanchez and Gardner had two hits apiece.
GAME TWO: N.C. Wesleyan 12, Covenant 9
Covenant's bats were hot in the middle innings as the Scots took a 7-1 lead at one point, but N.C. Wesleyan rallied with 11 runs over a three-inning stretch to complete the doubleheader sweep with a 12-9 victory.
After three scoreless innings, Covenant broke through in the fourth. Caleb Bloye hit his third home run of the year, a two-run shot, giving the Scots a 2-0 lead. Later in the inning Joel Johnson made it 3-0 with his RBI single to center field that plated Kerr. After N.C. Wesleyan scored a run in its half of the fourth, Kerr delivered a two-out, two-run single to center field in the fifth that scored Harvey and Lewis Saunders giving Covenant a 5-1 edge.
Covenant would make it 7-1 in the sixth as Harvey drove in Donny Lewis and Amorelli with a single.
But N.C. Wesleyan responded with three runs in the sixth to cut the Covenant lead to 7-4. The Scots extended the lead once again with two runs in the seventh. Bloye scored on an Amorelli single followed by a Bishops throwing error. Amorelli later scored on a wild pitch to make it 9-4.
N.C. Wesleyan got to the Covenant bullpen in the seventh and eighth innings scoring four runs in each to complete the rally. Down 9-8 in the eighth, N.C. Wesleyan sent 10 men to the plate and scored four runs on three hits, while a wild pitch brought in the go-ahead run in the inning.
Amorelli went 2-for-2 with a pair of runs scored in the game, while Harvey and Saunders also had two hits apiece. Bloye, Kerr and Harvey all had two RBIs for the Scots. Drew Bradley made the start on the mound and went six innings allowing two earned runs on eight hits. Ty Wilmore (0-1) picked up the loss in relief.
Palencia continued his hot hitting for N.C. Wesleyan by going 3-for-5 with three runs. Trey Croom, Gardner and Brandon Wheat all drove in two runs for the Bishops. Joseph Borgerding (1-2) got the win as he tossed two scoreless innings to finish the game. TJ Wilkie lasted 5.2 innings and allowed seven earned runs in his start.
Covenant and N.C. Wesleyan will complete the three-game series on Saturday at 12 p.m. at Bauer Field in Rocky Mount, N.C.
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