Last week, Behaven women won the softball conference championship.
Today, the men won the baseball conference championship.
Congratulations to the team and Coach Hill Denson, and we look forward to their play in the national tournament. We will find out this weekend when and where they will next play.
Here is the full story:
Columbus, GA-The Belhaven baseball team captured the 2011 Southern States Athletic Conference Championship thanks to a 16-5 victory against William Carey University in the championship game on Wednesday afternoon. The Blazers, ranked 21st in the latest NAIA Top 25 Poll, broke the game open with 10 runs in the third inning and never looked back on their way to the championship.
Belhaven (43-16) fell behind in the top of the second inning when Will White ripped a two out triple down the right field line plating Ronnie Camacho and Jared Rogers who had reached on singles ahead of him putting William Carey (30-25) in front 2-0. The Blazers answered quickly in the bottom of the second scoring a pair of two out runs of their own. With Ryan Saunders on first, Paul Moreno crushed his fourth home run of the season over the right center field wall to knot the game at 2-2.
Belhaven then took control of the game in the third scoring 10 runs with two outs. The Blazers loaded the bases with the help of an error charged to Rogers that extended the inning and proved to be costly. With two outs, Saunders got a 3-1 fastball from Scotty Reese and deposited a grand slam over the right center field wall to put the Blazers in front. It was the second grand slam for Belhaven in the tournament as Tyler Wrinkle homered with the bases loaded against William Carey in game three of the tournament. Belhaven went on to score six more runs on RBI doubles by Jordan Brewer and Jimmy Gilford, a two run single by Drew Dillard, and run scoring singles off the bats of Lake Eiland and Anthony Doss.
William Carey had a home run by Jordan Prout in the fifth to make it a 12-3 game, but then the Blazers tacked on another score in the bottom of the frame on an RBI single by Matt Discon. Belhaven scored two more in the sixth from an RBI single by Eiland and a throwing error by Carlos Castro opened the door for Gilford to cross the plate. Eiland then capped the scoring in the eighth with his third hit and third RBI of the afternoon on a double down the left field line. The Crusaders came up with two runs in the ninth resulting in the final score of 16-5.
Belhaven pounded out 16 hits with three of them coming from Eiland who led the way going 3 for 6 with his 15th double of the season. Eiland had three runs batted in on the day. Saunders went 2 for 5 with four runs batted in on the grand slam which was his fifth long ball of the season. Moreno along with Dillard had two hits and two runs batted in followed by Doss and Brewer with two hits and one RBI. Gilford and Discon had one hit and an RBI apiece and Derek Tortorich also chipped in with a base hit. Every starter in the lineup for Belhaven had at least one hit in the game.
Allen Johnson started for Belhaven on the mound and pitched five innings allowing three runs on seven hits. Johnson walked two and struck out one as he improves to 6-4 this season. Nick Meekins fired two scoreless innings and Jon Patino, Josh Clarke, and Jordan Scott combined to close out the final two innings.
Prout led the Crusaders going 2 for 5 at the dish with a home run and one run batted in. Rogers had two hits and a run scored, White tripled in two runs, and Patrick Kirkland had a two run single. Reese took the loss on the hill for William Carey as he worked 2.2 innings surrendering seven runs on four hits. Reese walked two and struck out one in the loss that drops his record to 5-6.
“I’m proud of the way our ballclub played and to win the SSAC Championship in our first year in the league is big for our program,” said Belhaven Head Coach Hill Denson. “We had solid pitching and our hitters came up with some clutch hits at key moments in ballgames that put us over the top.”
Belhaven had four players named to the SSAC All-Tournament Team when it was announced following the game. Derek Tortorich, Jimmy Gilford, Ryan Saunders, and Anthony Doss represented the Blazers on the squad. Doss also took home the MVP award and arguably had the biggest hit of the tournament when he launched a three run home run against Brewton-Parker that put Belhaven in front in game one of the tournament. Doss hit .480 for the tournament, Gilford hit .450, and Saunders along with Tortorich had a tournament high nine runs batted in.
Belhaven will find out where they will be headed for the NAIA National Championship Opening Round on Sunday when the final Top 25 Poll and opening round pairings are announced.