HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — The Railsplitters nearly rallied from behind in an 11-7 loss to 24th-ranked Alabama-Huntsville in the first game of a non-conference doubleheader in Huntsville. But Lincoln Memorial successfully accomplished that feat in the back end of the double dip, mustering an 8-5 triumph in eight innings over the home standing Chargers on Wednesday. The Railsplitters move to 20-11-1 overall with the split, while UAH is now 20-11 on the season.
Alabama-Huntsville 11, Lincoln Memorial 7
The Chargers used a balanced offensive attack with all nine starters contributing at least one hit and five different hitters finishing with two. Alabama-Huntsville scored nearly a run per hit, putting 11 checks in the run column on 14 hits.
The first inning passed without consequence, but the runs fell in bunches in the ensuing stretch. Blake Massey singled to lead off the bottom of the second for the Chargers, advanced to second on a ground out and scored on a two-out single by Justin Riddle. Lincoln Memorial starter Brandon Jean plunked Cody Burton with an 0-2 pitch to put two runners on, and Chandler Brock capitalized with a two-run double down the left-field line to cap a three-run flourish.
The Chargers added another run in the third as Brandon Lawing singled, advanced to third on an Austin Sanders double and scored on a wild pitch.
Facing a now 4-0 deficit, the Railsplitters nearly fought all the way back with one swing in the top of the fourth. Jonathan Lowe and Kelvin Brito singled to put two runners on with no outs, and Colin Buckner punctuated the inning with a three-run blast into the Huntsville night.
But the Chargers limited the damage to only that three-run home run while erasing those three runs in the bottom of the fourth. Riddle was hit by a pitch and Burton reached on a bunt single to put UAH in business. A sacrifice bunt moved the runners into scoring position for Ben Hall, who singled home both runs to extend the lead to 6-3. A Ryan Barnes double in the next at-bat scored Hall and made it 7-3.
Brito led off the top of the sixth with a home run to briefly trim the deficit, but Massey popped a two-run bomb in the bottom of that inning to pace a four-run inning for the Chargers.
Lincoln Memorial entered the seventh facing a seven-run deficit before mounting a rally that eventually brought the tying run to the plate. Kyle Floyd walked while Scott Miller and Lowe were hit by pitches to load the bases with one out. Brito collected his second RBI of the game with a single to right center, while Josh Coker added another run-scoring hit in the next AB. An error on a ball put in play by Buckner allowed Lowe to score and cut the deficit to 11-7 with the bases still chucked. However, Nick Morabito grounded back to the pitcher and Ivan Rodriguez fanned in the next two plate appearances to strand the bases loaded.
Brito led a nine-hit attack for the Railsplitters by going 3-for-4 with two RBI and two runs scored, while Miller stayed hot with a 2-for-3 showing that included a run. Buckner drove in three runs with his home run and added another hit to his stat ledger.
Brandon Jean was on the hook for the loss after allowing 11 hits and seven earned runs in five innings pitched as he falls to 2-2 on the season. Jean was relieved by Jordan Raines, who did not relinquish an earned run despite allowing three hits in an inning of work.
Lincoln Memorial 8, Alabama-Huntsville 5 (8 innings)
The Railsplitters entered the top of the seventh facing a 5-4 deficit, but Brito was hit by a 1-2 pitch to put the tying run on base with one out. Pinch runner Ivan Rodriguez advanced to second on a ground out and Buckner took advantage of that run-scoring opportunity, driving a two-out, two-strike pitch through the left side of the infield to tie the game.
The Chargers mustered a two-out hit in the bottom of the inning but it was all for nothing as reliever Ian Creager closed the door to send the game into extras.
Lincoln Memorial quickly manufactured a scoring chance as Isaac Woody drew a one-out walk and Miller popped a single through the left side. That opened the door for Lowe, who gave the Railsplitters the lead with a single into left center. Two batters later, Coker provided some breathing room by squeezing a two-run double down the right-field line.
Coker was then called to the mound in relief for the bottom of the eighth. All the Murphy, N.C., native did was strikeout the side to cap LMU’s 8-5 win. That solidified Coker’s eighth save of the season, which breaks the school’s previous single-season mark of seven set by Ray Burchell during the 2008 campaign.
Prior to that late-game rally, the Chargers had controlled the pace of Wednesday’s night cap. A pair of Railsplitter errors allowed Alabama-Huntsville to jump out to a 2-0 lead after one. Hall added another run to the Chargers’ ledger with a two-out, two-strike home run in the bottom of the second.
The Railsplitters scored two runs in both the third and fourth frames to hang tight, as a balk and a Brito RBI single plated two in the third, while Austin Pittman and Lowe contributed RBI in the fourth. But the Chargers scored runs in the bottom half of both of those frames to keep LMU at arm’s reach.
In addition to setting a new single-season mark for saves, Coker went 4-for-5 at the plate with two RBI. Lowe aided the cause with a 3-for-5 showing that included two runs and two RBI. Buckner and Jean Rodriguez chipped in with two hits apiece.
Timmy Wages earned a no decision after allowing six hits and two earned runs in six innings of work. Wages fanned five and walked four over that span. Creager picked up the win to improve to 2-0 after pitching a scoreless seventh inning.
The Railsplitters resume South Atlantic Conference play on Friday in the first of a three-game league series at Mars Hill.