The Oglethorpe baseball team suffered a heartbreaking loss Saturday afternoon in Birmingham, Alabama, giving up 2 runs in the ninth inning despite only allowing one ball out of the infield, falling 5-4 to No. 4 Birmingham-Southern in the process. The defeat dropped the Stormy Petrels to 6-9 on the season overall and 1-5 in SAA play.
The Petrels got a very good starting performance from sophomore left-hander Kyle Babb on Saturday, as he went 7 innings and allowed just 2 earned runs on 7 hits against a high-powered Panther lineup, walking just two and striking out three. The Panthers put up solid pitching, as well, though, allowing 8 total hits for the contest.
Neither team was able to dent the scoreboard until the fourth inning, but both teams scratched runs across in that frame. The Petrels took the lead in the top half of the inning when junior second baseman Matt Motz singled with two outs, advanced to third on a pair of wild pitches, and scored on a single from junior catcher Bobby Rezac. The Panthers answered with a single run in the bottom half of the inning, making the score 1-1.
Birmingham-Southern followed with a pair of runs in the fifth, one on a leadoff home run and the other scoring on a Petrel error, making it 3-1 after five. The Petrels fought back in the sixth inning, though. With two outs and nobody on, Oglethorpe put five consecutive men aboard, four of them on walks. Sophomore pinch-hitter Andrew Mink and junior third baseman Connor Crooke drove in runs with bases-loaded walks as part of the rally, and the game was tied 3-3.
It remained that way until the ninth, when the Petrels looked poised to take the game at the end. Junior left fielder Britton Araujo led off the frame with a double, and that was followed up with a groundout, advancing Araujo to third. Junior catcher Adrain Celata came through with a run-scoring double a batter later and the Petrels had a 4-3 edge. However, the Panthers answered with a pair of runs in the bottom half of the inning to take the game. A pair of infield singles, a sacrifice fly and an error provided the damage for Birmingham-Southern.
Motz finished the game 2-for-4 with a walk and 2 runs, while Celata went 2-for-5 with the RBI double.
"This was a tough weekend, but I liked the way the guys fought and battled the whole time," said Oglethorpe head coach Dan Giordano. "We need to clean up our play in the field. We have a lot of baseball left and I know our best play is yet to come."
The Petrels now return home to take on MIT in a 3-game series next Saturday and Sunday. Oglethorpe will host the Engineers in a doubleheader Saturday beginning at 1 p.m. The two teams will then come back on Sunday for a single game at noon.