CEDAR CITY, Utah, April 9 – Southern Utah and Centenary split a baseball double-header Friday, with the Thunderbirds coming out on top of a pitchers’ duel, 4-3 in 11 innings, and the Gentlemen claiming a slugfest in the nightcap, 9-8.
Southern Utah banged out 25 hits in the two games, including 15 in the second, but fell victim to some costly errors and walks to prevent themselves picking up the sweep on the opening day of Summit League play for both teams.
Meanwhile, SUU’s Steve Johnson was cruising on the mound, holding the Gents to just one hit through the first five innings but in the sixth Centenary rallied. The Gentlemen took advantage of two hits and an error as Trey McGee came home on a Cliff Shepard single and Keegan Acker scored on an infield out to tie the game.
SUU answered with a run in the bottom the inning when Joe Goldenberg doubled home Aona, but Centenary tied it in the top of the ninth when Cody Eliason hit Michael Tompkins then Kyle Melling gave up an RBI double to Jeff Ericson.
The Thunderbirds were finally able to put the game away in the 11th, however, when D.J. Andrade layed downa bunt to score Tyler Hogge on a squeeze play. Yardley picked up the win in relief to move to 2-0 on the season while Derek Dalzell took the loss, also in relief, to dip to 1-2.
Centenary scored four unearned runs in the first two innings of game two, taking advantage of a dropped pop-up foul ball and a bobbled ball in the infield to score one in the first, then scoring three in the second after a wild throw from Aona to pitcher Kyle Melling on another ball in the infield extended the inning.
Southern Utah scored three runs of its own in the first two innings, as Sanford drove in Romero in the first and Cuthbertson hit a two-RBI triple in the second to pull the ‘Birds within 4-3.
SUU tied it at 4-4 in the fourth when Levi Swenson’s ground rule double drove in Taylor Shaw but the Thunderbirds ran themselves out of a chance for more in the inning as Swenson was picked off and Andrade was thrown out trying to score from first base on a Cuthbertson double later in the inning.
The Thunderbirds rallied to score four runs in the sixth on home runs by Shaw and Swenson and another RBI double by Cuthbertson, but this time it was Centenary’s turn to climb back, as the Gents took advantage of a pair of wild pitches to score one in the seventh, then added three more in the eighth on a two-run Tell Ross home run and a solo shot by Alex Todd.
The Gents scored the winning run in the ninth when Todd hit a sacrifice fly to drive in Jeff Schaffert.
Stephen Tromblee improved to 1-2 in throwing 3 2/3 innings of relief while Yardley picked up his second decision of the day but dipped to 2-1.
“I’m disappointed we weren’t able to pull out that second game, we really had our opportunities to win both but we had some costly errors and too many walks and we let it slip away,” SUU Coach David Eldredge said. “Centenary was picked as one of the top teams in [the Summit League], and we were able to get a win against Boone Whiting, who is probably the best pitcher in our league, in game one, so that’s definitely a positive.
“With the way our season has started I have to be encouraged with the way we played today,” he added. “We got some big hits when we needed them in both games and we got pretty good pitching for the most part.”
SUU’s starters both performed well, as Johnson struck out six, scattered three hits over 7 1/2 innings and allowed just one earned run while Melling went 6 2/3 innings, giving up just one earned run and six hits with seven strikeouts.
SUU is now 7-21 overall and 1-1 in league play while CC takes an 11-14, 1-1 mark into Saturday’s double-header.
-- SUU --