HARROGATE, Tenn. — The Railsplitters surrendered a season-high 18 hits and 17 runs as the Young Harris Mountain Lions scored in each of the first six innings in a 17-9 win in NCAA Division II baseball action on Wednesday at Lamar Hennon Field. Lincoln Memorial University falls to 16-10-1 overall, while Peach Belt Conference counterpart Young Harris improves to 13-14.
The ball was flying out of the park at an unprecedented rate early on as the two teams combined for six home runs in the first three innings, while the Mountain Lions raced out to an 11-3 advantage over that stretch.
Josh Rudnik led off the top of the first for the Mountain Lions with a double into left center and a throwing error on the next play allowed the leadoff man to score. Tom Valichka plated another run with a sacrifice fly late in the frame to prop Young Harris to a 2-0 advantage.
The Railsplitters erased that deficit and briefly jolted into the lead with two mammoth homers in the bottom half of that inning. Scott Miller singled and Jonathan Lowe followed with a two-run blast that landed in the parking lot in right field. Two batters later, Josh Coker nearly matched Lowe’s big fly, providing Lincoln Memorial with a 3-2 lead on his 11th home run of the season.
That lead was short lived as the Mountain Lions squared the contest at 3-3 on a Trey Rogers’ lead-off home run to left in the top of the second stanza. And that was only the start for Young Harris, who slammed three more dingers in the nine-run third frame that doomed the Railsplitters. Dom Wyshinski plated three with a blast to right center, while Rudnik went over the right-field fence to score three more runs. It was David Atwood who put the finishing touches on the inning, drilling a two-run bomb to right center.
Young Harris added a run in the fourth and two in both the fifth and sixth frames. Over that same stretch, Lincoln Memorial was only able to match one of those runs as Coker drove home Miller with a single in the fifth.
Facing a 17-4 deficit, the Railsplitters made it respectable with a Kelvin Brito solo home run in the bottom of the seventh as well as a four-run flurry in the eighth. Brandon Morris drew a bases-loaded walk to score the first run in the eighth, while Miller notched an RBI single and Brito drove in two with a single to cut the deficit to 17-9, which would be the final margin.
The Railsplitters collected 14 hits off of eight different Mountain Lion pitchers, but the top four spots in the lineup accounted for 10 of those hits. Miller was 4-for-5 with an RBI and two runs scored, while Coker went 3-for-3 with a home run, two RBI and a run scored. Brito was 2-for-5 including his sixth home run of the season. Lowe was 1-for-5 with his second homer.
Lincoln Memorial committed a season-high six errors that led to six unearned runs. Freshman Brandon Jean was touched up by the Mountain Lions early, falling to 2-1 after allowing seven hits and four earned runs in 2-1/3 innings. Five additional pitchers made an appearance for the Railsplitters, highlighted by Dominic Morabito, Jordan Raines and Nick Morabito, who combined to allow only one hit with no runs in the final three frames.
The Railsplitters will look to bounce back over the weekend with a three-game South Atlantic Conference set against the Brevard Tornados at Lamar Hennon Field. The series is scheduled to start with a nine-inning bout at 4 p.m. on Friday with a double-header on Saturday.