In the opening of a three-game series against their SLIAC conference opponent Greenville, the Blackburn baseball team struggled to find their footing and keep up with the high-scoring pace set by the Panthers.
The trouble for the Beavers began early and continued as Greenville’s leadoff batter Jesse Getz drew a walk and Adam Lamb followed with what was intended to be a sacrifice bunt. However, the ball was just out of reach for Blackburn pitcher Brady Wilkinson and an error on the throw by second baseman Shane Lewis allowed both runners to move into scoring positions and opened the floodgates for what would become a four-run inning.
A groundball out and single to left field by Travis Ralls and Mike Hardin opened the scoring for the Panthers and a two-out single by Max Gabriel highlighted the inning as Blackburn was unable to score. Shane Lewis who was drilled with a throw by Greenville’s first baseman but managed to fight his way to third base, was left stranded as Blayten Magana struck out to end the frame.
The first inning was only a sign of what was to come as Greenville put up at least one run in every inning except the second. Blackburn’s Lewis threw out Lamb at home when his teammate Travis Ralls drew the throw to second base on an attempted double steal for the third out
With a chance to build some momentum, the Beavers were unable to capitalize and went down in order. An explosive third inning by the Panthers put an end to any hope of a comeback as they went on to score seven runs, highlighted by a two-out, three-run double by Hardin.
In the innings that followed, Greenville continued to extend their lead and held Blackburn scoreless until the Beavers’ Joey Szerletich was hit by a pitch and teammates RJ Rios and JP Hobbs hit back-to-back singles, loading the bases for Austin Presley. Presley put the ball in play and reached first as Greenville went for the out at third, allowing Szerletich to score.
The Beavers dropped the series opener by a score of 17-1 in a shortened seven-inning game due to a run-rule. In the second game of the series in Greenville ended with a 6-0 loss. Though the first two games were tough blows for the Beavers, they came together in the series finale, a 9-8 victory was thrown by Blackburn’s Magana, Jarrett Sandlin, and Tyler Durand who earned the save. The upset victory was made possible by a four-run second and three-run seventh inning. Wilkinson led the Beavers as he reached base in all of his plate appearances, drawing two walks in addition to a 3-3 night with two runs batted in and a run scored.