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Baseball Advances to Championship

Baseball Advances to Championship

MOUNT BERRY, Ga. – It was déjà vu all over again.

Mere hours after giving up a six-run lead in its winner's bracket championship game versus Emory, the 9/11 Shenandoah University baseball team turned the same trick against No. 5/6 Birmingham-Southern Saturday night.

Shenandoah (35-11) advanced to Sunday's NCAA South Regional Championship against Emory by virtue of a 10-8 win over B-SC.

Trailing 7-0 after the Panthers (39-13) scored six runs in the first and one more in the third, the Hornets clawed back in it behind a 13-hit performance and an outstanding showing from senior closer Phil Morse on the mound.

In his longest appearance since his sophomore year, Morse (5-0) went the final 6 1/3 innings to hold B-SC off as the SU offense did its work.

The Hornets began their climb back with three runs in the first and two more in the sixth off of Panthers starter Ryan Gaines, and the scored two in the seventh and three in the eighth to complete the comeback.

Freshman Tristan Baker tied the game as his bunt single along with a throwing error allowed Robert Marcelle to score from second.

One batter later, Abel Arocho laced a single through the drawn-in infield to put the Hornets on top to stay.

The final run, by Baker, was a result of a Jake Loew fielder's choice.

Now with the lead for the first time all night, Morse closed the door.

In the eighth, he retired the Panthers in order and nearly did the same in the ninth, only allowing a two-out walk.

Morse allowed one run on one hit (a triple), walked four and struck out two. At one point, he retired eight straight hitters.

"Coach told me it was my ballgame," Morse said of coming on in the middle of the third.

"I tried to take a starters mentality at that point, because I knew I was going to finish the contest. I just wanted to get quick outs so we could get back in the dugout and our offense could do its work."

The offense did that work, banging out 11 of its 13 hits and scoring all 10 of its runs from the fourth through ninth innings.

Eight of the nine starters had at least one hit with backup catcher Tyler Murray, who came on for Zach Herbaugh after Herbaugh suffered an injury on his second at-bat, had a two-run triple.

The hit was just his fifth of the season.

"I can't say enough about the guys," skipper Kevin Anderson said. "It was a total team effort, but Tyler Murray and Phil Morse deserve special mention. They both stepped up huge for us tonight."

The regional championship game is set for noon with the if necessary contest to take place 45 minutes following the completion of the first game.

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