BELMONT, N.C. - The Belmont Abbey baseball team evaporated an 8-1 deficit by scoring the last eight runs of the game, including a six-run sixth inning, to earn an exciting 9-8 win in the first game of a three-game Conference Carolinas series. The second game of the scheduled doubleheader was stopped after the top of the first due to lightning. The game will resume Sunday at 1:00 p.m. in the bottom of the first with Pfeiffer leading 2-0.
The two teams will play a nine inning game at the conclusion of the seven inning game. The records stand at 22-11 overall and 12-4 in Conference Carolinas for Belmont Abbey, while Pfeiffer is now 16-12 overall and 7-6 in Conference Carolinas.
Belmont Abbey struck first in the bottom of the first as Emilio Pagan drew a leadoff walk, moved to third on a single by Stephen Mullis, and then stole home as part of a double steal as Mullis also took second.
Pfeiffer countered with five runs on five hits in the top of the third, two coming on a homer by Dalton Lindley. The Falcons also used RBI singles by Jacob Yates and Jon Gray, as well as a run-scoring double by Kevin Price to move the lead to 5-1.
The lead grew to 7-1 in the fourth as Preston Lyon clubbed a leadoff homer, and Yates scored from third on a wild pitch after he extended the inning with a leadoff single, stole second and moved to third on a wild pitch.
Pfeiffer tacked on what turned out to be its final run in the sixth as Aarin Sharpe reached on a error by Pagan and moved to second on a single by Yates. After a pair of strikeouts Gray's seeing-eye single to left plated Sharpe to move the Falcons edge to 8-1, but the Falcons did not score again.
The Abbey began its comeback in the sixth in the bottom of the frame as it scored six runs on six hits to close the lead to 8-7 as it sent 11 men to the plate. Caleb Shore led off with a bunt single and moved to second on a walk to Ian Vazquez. After a flyout to center, Justin Vasquez singled to left center to load the bases. Pagan then worked a walk to plate Shore and close the lead to 8-2.
Joey Frabasile followed with a ringing double to left center that brought home Vazquez and Vasquez to inch the Abbey to within 8-4. After a pitching change, Mullis dropped a single to right, and moved to second on the throw, as Frabasile and Pagan scored to shrink the gap to 8-6. Jon Pilla kept the rally alive with a pinch-hit single to score Mullis to cut the lead to 8-7.
The Falcons did not score in the eighth, which set up the Abbey overtaking the game in the bottom of the inning. After a pair of flyouts to start the inning, Kyle Buchanan blasted a double to right center, and scored on Shore's triple to right center to knot the game at eight. Vazquez produced the winning run when his bunt single scored Shore from third to cap the comeback and give the Abbey a 9-8 lead. The Crusaders threatened to score again as Gabby Amor was hit by a pitch, followed by a walk to Vasquez to load the bases, but a groundout ended the inning.
Pagan moved from third to the mound for the top of the ninth and retired the side in order for his conference-leading ninth save.
Matt Parish picked up the win to move his record to 5-1. He retired both batters he faced in the top of the ninth, striking out one. Craig Bolton took the loss after allowing the winning runs to score on three hits in an inning of work, walking one. Pagan picked up the save after working a perfect ninth.
The Crusaders finished with ten hits as Mullis, Buchanan and Shore all had two. Frabasile and Mullis drove in two runs. Yates led Pfeiffer with four hits in five at bats, while Gray and Lindley each had a pair of hits and two RBI.