Hawks fall in regional opener

Published 8:09 am Monday, May 17, 2010

MURFREESBORO – Maybe it was shaking off a little rust.

Chowan University’s baseball team – hosting the 2010 National Christian Collegiate Athletic Association South Regional Baseball Tournament at their home Hawkins Field – fell to the Crusaders of North Greenville (SC) University, 6-5, in Wednesday’s opening game.

Five teams participated in the tournament: Truett-McConnell College of Cleveland, Georgia, Southeastern University of Lakeland, Florida (the top seed), North Greenville, Emmanuel College of Franklin Springs, Ga., and the Hawks, who were the third-seed.

The event ran May 12-14.

Chowan banged out just six hits in the game with Justin Bagbey going 1-for-2 with a two-run homerun. Senior Nate Mitchell also slammed a homer, going 1-for-2.

The Hawks left nine men on base – six in scoring position – throughout the game, but just couldn’t come up with the timely hits to drive in runs.

Ryan Bradshaw took the loss on the mound going four innings and giving up five runs while striking out three. Robert Weaver and John Atkins pitched in relief of Bradshaw with Weaver giving up a run in the fifth inning.

“I told the guys before the game that very few teams are still playing in May,” said sixth-year coach Aaron Carroll, “so this is an opportunity and we need to just make the most of it.”

Chowan had not played since closing out their regular season with a pair of double-headers, first at Mt. Olive and later at UNC-Pembroke on April 24 and 25, but Carroll wouldn’t use the two and a half week layoff as an excuse.

“We didn’t play bad,” he added, “but we didn’t hit the ball the way we’re capable of. They (No. Greenville) had a heckuva team and they came away scoring runs, something that we just didn’t do.”

The Hawks took an early 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning when senior John Kellett drew a walk, was sacrificed to third base on back-to-back outs and, after a walk, came home on a single up the middle from fellow senior Nate Stanton.

But the Crusaders bounced back to take a 3-1 lead in the bottom of the fourth inning then added three more in the bottom of the fifth to lead, 6-1.

Chowan got one run back in the top of the sixth when senior Mike Taylor’s pinch-hit single up the middle scored Bagbey. They loaded the bases with two out, but could not convert more runs.

Trailing by four in the top of the seventh inning Chowan, the number-two batting team in the NCCAA region, came back to make it interesting.

With one out, freshman Brandon Mack reached on an error right before Bagbey took a fastball over the left center-field fence for a two-run dinger.

Mitchell followed by crushing a round-tripper of his own over the right field fence to pull the Hawks within a run. They got one more runner aboard via a base-on-balls, but were unable to drive him in and absorbed their 22nd loss of the season.

“We get another chance,” said Carroll. “If we swing the bats next time and our pitching’s good we get to play some more baseball.”