The Oglethorpe baseball team swung the bats well Wednesday night in Demorest, and rode that offensive output to a 12-9 win over the homestanding Piedmont Lions at Loudermilk Field, improving the team to 18-18 on the season. The Stormy Petrels jumped out to a huge lead over the Lions, enjoying a 7-0 advantage after five innings and extending that to 12-0 in the eighth. Piedmont mounted a considerable rally in the ninth inning, scoring 9 runs on 6 hits and 4 walks, but the Petrels were able to hold on for the 3-run victory.
The Petrels jumped all over Piedmont early, scoring at least a run in every inning from the second through the fifth. They put a couple of hits together in the second, with senior designated hitter Brandon Fish doubling to lead off the frame and senior third baseman Austin Ferlita following with a single two batters later. That set up junior second baseman Matt Motz with an opportunity, and he cashed it in with a sacrifice fly, scoring the first run of the game. Then in the third, junior left fielder Britton Araujo walked and was followed by junior center fielder Jarvis Miller, who launched a 2-run homer to make it 3-0. Junior catcher Adrian Celata came up two batters later and launched the first of his 2 home runs on the day, giving Oglethorpe a 4-0 advantage. They added a fifth tally in the fourth, when Motz doubled and stole third, then was driven home with a fielder's choice off the bat of Miller, who drove in his third run in a 2-inning span. Then, after Fish walked and sophomore first baseman Andrew Mink singled with one out in the fifth, Ferlita drove home Fish with a single and Motz drove home Mink with a double, extending Oglethorpe's advantage to 7-0. Motz finished the game 2-for-3 with 2 doubles and a pair of runs driven in.
The visitors added five more in the eighth, seemingly putting the game completely on ice. Araujo and freshman shortstop Sam Held walked and Miller reached on catcher's interference, loading the bases with nobody out. Senior pinch hitter Tyler Blamble drove in a run with a hit-by-pitch, bringing Celata back to the plate with the bases still loaded. The Oglethorpe slugger came through with a grand slam for his league-leading 11th home run of the year, extending his Oglethorpe career record to 28. He finished the night 2-for-5 with 5 RBIs, and now has driven home 39 on the season. The Petrels had a 12-0 lead.
The victory appeared to be secure, but Piedmont put the first six batters who faced freshman left-hander Preston Vegotsky aboard in the ninth, making the score 12-3. After a strikeout, Piedmont added two more with a bases-loaded walk and single, making it 12-5, but another Lion strikeout brought them to the brink. The home side made things interesting, though, with another bases-loaded walk and a bases-clearing double, making it 12-9. With the potential tying run in the on-deck circle, though, Vegotsky got a Piedmont pop-up for the final out of the contest.
Freshman right-hander Austin Manuel got the start for the Petrels and picked up the victory, improving to 2-1 in the process. He threw 3 shutout innings, allowing a single hit while walking two and striking out four. Senior right-hander Sam Traxler also pitched well, allowing no runs on 2 hits immediately following Manuel, striking out four, as well.
Ferlita finished the game 3-for-4 with a double and an RBI, while Miller went 2-for-5 with a pair of runs scored, in addition to his 3 RBIs.
The victory gave Oglethorpe a season sweep over the Lions, after they came back from a 12-3 deficit in a wild 20-16 win over Piedmont March 29 at Anderson Field.
"We played a solid game all-around," said Oglethorpe head coach Dan Giordano. "Manuel gave us a really good start and we had some big hits with guys on base. We're looking forward to a big weekend to finish off the regular season."
The Petrels will now return home for a 3-game set with Hendrix Saturday and Sunday at Anderson Field. Saturday will feature a doubleheader starting at 1 p.m., with a huge celebration commemorating the program's 100th anniversary set for the break between games. The Petrels will close out the regular season Sunday at noon, and will honor seniors Morgan Blake, Trevor Davis, Ryan Brennan, Fish, Ferlita, Blamble and Traxler for Senior Day prior to the game.