HARROGATE, Tenn. — The Railsplitters needed some late heroics on Saturday to notch their third South Atlantic Conference series sweep of the 2014 season. Trailing 8-7 in the bottom of the sixth in the finale with Brevard, Kyle Floyd drilled a two-out, three-run double into the gap in right center, propelling Lincoln Memorial to an 11-8 triumph. Lincoln Memorial also won Saturday’s first game as well as Friday’s opener to improve to 19-10-1 overall and 13-4 in SAC play, while the Tornados fall to 12-18 on the season and 6-14 in league action.
Junior right-hander Zac Butler ground out a complete-game performance on the mound for the Railsplitters in Saturday’s first game, working around 12 hits by stranding 10 Tornados on the base paths. The Blue Springs, Missouri native allowed only three earned runs and fanned three batters to improve to 4-4 on the season.
Butler received a bevy of early run support as the Railsplitters jumped out to a 2-0 advantage thanks to an RBI double by Josh Coker and a run-scoring single by Colin Buckner in the bottom of the first.
Lincoln Memorial broke open a 2-1 game by combining for four runs in the third and fourth frames. Coker drew a lead-off walk in the third and scored on a sacrifice fly out by Nick Morabito, while Coker came back around to tally a two-run double in the fourth. Floyd capped that scoring outburst and provided LMU with a 6-1 cushion with an RBI single to center.
The Railsplitters added to their count in the seventh as Jacob West reached on a lead-off walk, advanced to third on a Morabito single and scored on a 4-6-3 double play. Brevard regained that run in the visitor’s half of the eighth on a solo blast off the bat of Blake Helton, but the Railsplitters answered with a solo, lead-off shot by Kelvin Brito.
The first two Tornado batters reached against Butler in the top of the ninth, but a 4-6-3 double play stifled any thoughts of a rally. John Slade drove home Fisher with a two-out single to center field before Butler capped his complete game by inducing a 6-4 putout.
Each of LMU’s nine batters collected a hit in Saturday’s opener. Brito led that effort by going 3-for-5 with three runs, a homer and an RBI. Coker was 2-for-3 with two doubles, three RBI and two runs, while Buckner, Floyd and Morabito each contributed RBI.
In game two, the Railsplitters looked dead in the water heading into the bottom of the sixth staring up at a 8-7 deficit. But Scott Miller sparked a dramatic rally with a lead-off single. After a fly out, Brito beat out a slow roller to third base to put the winning run aboard. Another fly out threatened the Railsplitters’ chances, but Mason Ewers drew a walk to load the bases for Floyd.
The Windsor, Illinois native more than came through, slashing a bases-clearing double into the gap in right center to catapult the Railsplitters to a 10-8 advantage. Lincoln Memorial added an insurance run as Morabito followed suit by drilling a double into the same gap to plate Floyd.
The Tornados jumped out to a 2-0 lead after the top half of the first as Matthew Proffitt scored on a ground out by Blake Helton, while Cody Fisher crossed home on a sacrifice fly out by Chip Helton. But the Railsplitters responded with a four-run outburst in the bottom of that inning. Buckner drew a bases-loaded walk to put the first run across, while an error on a Floyd grounder allowed two more runs to cross. West capped the flurry with an RBI ground out to the third baseman.
The top of the third saw the Tornados post a four-spot on the board. An error and a pair of wild pitches put Proffitt at third base, where he eventually scored on a Slade single. Chip Helton drove in Fisher, who walked with no outs, with a single into right center, while a throwing error allowed Slade to score. The Tornados increased the lead to 6-4 with an RBI single by Morris.
As was the case all afternoon, the Railsplitters battled back, tying the contest at 6-6 after Morabito torched a two-run home run to right-center field. That tie held ever so briefly though as the Tornados regained a two-run advantage with a two-run double off the bat of Morris in the top of the fifth.
The Railsplitters preceded their sixth-inning rally with a run in the fifth as Morabito singled home Ewers.
Coker was the benefactor of LMU’s rally as he improved to 1-1 on the season after tossing 2-1/3 innings in relief, only allowing two hits and no runs over that span.
Miller went 3-for-3 with a run scored in the leadoff spot, while Brito was 3-for-4 with a double and a run. Morabito was huge for the Railsplitters, driving in four runs with three hits that included a double and a home run. Floyd finished 2-for-5 with five RBI and two runs scored.
The Railsplitters take to the road for their next two series, traveling to Huntsville, Ala.m, for a non-conference double-header against Alabama-Huntsville on Wednesday before heading over to Mars Hill for a three-game SAC weekend set.