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Bridgewater baseball wins NCAA Tournament opener

Bridgewater College scored an unearned run in the top of 12th inning Thursday at Piedmont College’s Loudermilk Field to defeat Birmingham Southern 1-0 in the completion of a first-round game that was halted by rain on Wednesday evening.

With the victory Bridgewater advances in the winner’s bracket to play Emory University, the tournament’s No.2 seed. Friday’s game time will be announced later this evening.

After Bridgewater’s Corey Armentrout and the Panthers Blake Stevens matched zeroes on Wednesday, Nick Corbin and Birmingham Southern’s Miles Nordgren continued the trend Thursday.

The Eagles pushed across the game’s only run in the 12th. Justin Petock walked on a 3-2 pitch from reliever David Bourbonnias to lead off the frame. The Eagles opted to hit and run with Brendan Howell at the plate. Howell failed to make contact, but Petock was safe at second with a stolen base. Howell then hit a grounder to first, moving Petock to third. Petock scored when Bourbonnais failed to handle the throw while covering the bag on Howell’s grounder as the Eagles took the 1-0 lead.

Corbin retired the first batter in the bottom of the 12th, but Evan Groventein singled to center, putting the tying run at first. Robert Gallet then entered the game for the Eagles and retired Jacob Mayfield on a fly ball to right and Wes Kent on a grounder to second to preserve the Eagles 1-0 victory.

Corbin, now 8-1, picked up the win with 8.1 shutout innings. He allowed nine hits while striking out seven and walking just one. Gallet recorded the final two outs to pick up his fourth save of the year.

Each team had chances to score Thursday, but Corbin and Nordgren were able to make big pitches when needed.

Birmingham Southern loaded the bases with one out in the fifth, but was unable to push across a run. Matt Brown led off the inning with a single and moved to third on a single by Grovenstein. Mayfield then worked Corbin for a walk to load the sacks. Wes Kent followed with a grounder to third and Justin Petock threw home to retire the lead runner. Corbin worked out of the jam by retiring Bourbonnais on a pop fly to second.

The Panthers threatened in the ninth when Jake Campbell led off with a single and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt. Brown singled sharply to left, but Campbell made a big turn at third and was unable to get back to the bag. He was tagged out in a rundown between third and home for the second out of the inning. With Brown in scoring position at second, Grovenstein hit a sinking liner to center where Bridgewater’s Darren Yoder made a diving catch for the third out of the inning.

The Eagles missed an opportunity to take the lead in the 10th. Zach Hynes led off with a single and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Hunter Hensley. With two outs, Yoder lined a single to left. Panthers’ outfielder Ethan Netherton made a perfect throw to the plate and Mayfield made the tag on a sliding Hynes to keep the game scoreless.

The Eagles are now 34-12 on the season, matching the program record for most wins in a season set a year ago.

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