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Hawks rally past T-MC

MURFREESBORO – Their bats came alive, and the pitching pulled them through.

Chowan University’s baseball team staved off elimination in the National Christian College Athletic Association (NCCAA) South Regional Baseball Tournament Thursday morning with a 5-3 come-from-behind win over the Bears of Truett-McConnell College in the second day of action at Hawkins Field.

The Hawks took advantage of two Bear errors and three run-producing walks to claw back into the game and get the eventual win.

At the plate John Kellett and Brandon Mack were both 2-for-4 with an RBI each.

“Their pitcher kept us off balance up until the fifth inning,” said Chowan coach Aaron Carroll. “Our guys showed a lot of patience and he had trouble finding the strike zone at that time.

“They gave us some runs,” he added with a chuckle, “but we’ll take ’em.”

Anthony O’Brien pitched the first four innings for the win giving up two hits and striking out four in the game. Andrew Hales pitched the last three innings for his first save of the year giving up a hit and striking out two batters in relief.

“We played some solid defense behind him,” said Carroll, “with my infielders especially making some good plays. It was a quality start despite giving up the runs, but he battled out of it and Hales probably pitched the best he’s done all year.”

Trailing 3-0 in the top of the fifth, Chowan opened the frame with a single from Adam Capps and Thomas Bird reaching on the first walk of the inning. Stewart Barnette laid down a sacrifice bunt along the first-base line that moved both runners into scoring position and Kellett then grounded out to second to score Capps.

Mack followed with a clutch two-out single that scored Bird to pull Chowan within one at 3-2 and that’s when the walk-a-thon began.

Bears pitcher Joey Wood gave up two straight base on balls to load the sacks and then with Mike Taylor at the dish Wood continued to fail to find the strike zone and on four straight pitches walked in the tying run.

The bad fortune continued for the Bears right-hander as he then put Nate Stanton aboard with five pitches – four out of the strike zone – and the go-ahead run came home in the form of pinch-runner Bret Overton.

Bears coach Jim Waits made a pitching change after that with the bases still full of Hawks, but Chris Swancey attempted a pick-off move to second base and threw the ball into centerfield allowing Nate Mitchell to score the fifth and final run of the inning.

“He lost the strike zone a little bit,” said Waits after the game, “but we also didn’t make some key plays with two outs that cost us. Hopefully it’s a learning experience.”

Truett-McConnell ended their season at 25-25 while Chowan rose to 24-22-1 and faced a second elimination game later in the day.