It looked for much of the latter part of the game Sunday at Striplin Field in Birmingham, Alabama, like the Oglethorpe baseball team would force a decisive Game 2 in the pod finals of the SAA Baseball Championship. They entered the ninth inning up 3-1 with just three outs to get to force the winner-take-all contest. No. 25 Birmingham-Southern had other ideas, though, scoring the winning runs on a three-run homer and ending the Stormy Petrels' season 4-3.
The scene was highly reminiscent of what happened Saturday afternoon in the second round, when the Panthers came back from 3-2 down in the ninth to win 4-3 on a walkoff hit. The Petrels recovered from that, winning an elimination game Saturday night against Berry to earn a rematch with Birmingham-Southern. There was no recovering from Sunday's loss, though.
The Petrels got outstanding work from sophomore right-hander Chris Keane, who earned a spot start and pitched five innings of shutout ball. He allowed just three hits and three walks while striking out three, keeping Oglethorpe in the thick of the contest.
Oglethorpe rewarded him with a lead in the sixth. Senior center fielder Jacob Gassert slugged a two-run homer to right field and the Petrels suddenly had a 2-0 lead.
Birmingham-Southern got a run back in the seventh, but the visitors responded in the eighth when sophomore catcher Cory DeLair reached on an error and freshman shortstop Billy Finch reached on a bunt single. Gassert followed with a run-scoring fielder's choice, collecting his third RBI of the day and extending Oglethorpe's lead back out to a pair.
The Petrels end their season at 14-30 on the year. An impressive SAA tournament run put them in position to possibly advance to the SAA Championship Series, though, as they nabbed two wins from regionally-ranked Berry and had a chance to beat nationally-ranked Birmingham-Southern in both games against them.