Seven-run sixth launches Longwood baseball past Georgia
For the second-consecutive weekend it appeared that Longwood was locked in a pitchers’ duel as Longwood ace Aaron Myers and Georgia’s Ryan Lawlor matched wits for five innings. That’s when the Longwood bats decided Myers was not going to suffer a tough loss for the second time, exploding for seven runs on seven hits, all coming with two outs, in a decisive sixth inning to bury the Bulldogs in Friday’s series opener at Foley Field.
The big inning got rolling when senior Travis Biddix drew a two-out walk on a 3-2 count. Then, Longwood (5-6) fired up the merry-go-around as eight-straight batters reached safely including seven singles and two-RBI knocks from Michael Osinski and Colton Konvicka.
Friday was the second-consecutive game in which Osinski, a 6-3 freshman from Vestal, N.Y., provided a clutch hit in the Lancers’ big inning as the rookie shortstop opened the flood gates with a two-out, two-run single to center.
Four batters later, Konvicka laced a two-run single of his own to center field to put a bow on the seven-run frame.
On this night, seven runs was more than enough as senior co-captain Aaron Myers (2-2) delivered another quality start. The 6-3, 225-pound right-hander went 7.1 strong innings allowing three runs while scattering seven hits and fanning four Bulldogs.
The win marks the second victory over Southeastern Conference opponents in as many tries for the Lancers.
“Our offense really showed its toughness and determination tonight,” said head coach Ryan Mau. “To put together a sixth inning like that, all with two outs and nobody on, was very impressive. We strung together great at-bat after great at-bat and were able to hang a big number on the board.”
The opening five innings were a quintessential pitchers’ duel with both Myers and Lawlor working scoreless frames and scattering a combined six hits. It was business as usual for the senior Myers who tossed a third quality start in four tries this season.
With his four strikeouts Friday, the Lancer ace also moved up a notch in the career strikeout list surpassing Dennis Hale for third. Myers now has 226 career punchouts, 32 shy of the all-time record.
“Aaron was sharp tonight and had all three pitches working,” said Mau. “He kept them off balance and gave us a great performance.”
A week after Myers suffered a 1-0 loss to Army in a complete game performance, the bats stepped up to ensure he did not suffer the same fate this time around.
After managing just two hits in the first five innings Longwood looked to be going quietly once more in the sixth as the first two Lancers were retired. Then, Travis Biddix drew a two-out walk and the merry-go-round whirled into full effect.
Kyri Washington drove a single into center field which was followed by a pair of infield singles from Brandon Delk and Connar Bastaich staking Longwood to a 1-0 lead. That’s when the big hit came, and for the second game in a row, it came off the bat of the freshman Osinski.
Osinksi’s single to center plated a pair of blue and white clad runs placing Longwood up 3-0. The rookie shortstop would finish his day 2-for-3 with the two RBI, marking his second-consecutive multi-hit and multi-RBI day.
“Mike had some very at-bats again today and none bigger than his single in the sixth,” said Mau. “He also made a very tough defensive play up the middle for us to end an inning and extinguish a scoring threat.”
The Lancers were not done at three in the sixth, however, as Longwood continued to pile on. Mac McCafferty reached on an error after the second baseman couldn’t handle his ground ball up the middle and two more Lancers touched home.
Longwood pounced on the opportunity following the error as Brandon Harvell and C.J. Roth ripped back-to-back singles to load the bases once again. As the lineup rolled over, Colton Konvicka lined a two-run shot to center field, capping off the seven run inning.
Georgia would not go quietly and the Bulldogs rallied to threaten in the final three frames. Daniel Nichols led off the seventh inning with a solo home run to get Georgia on the board. An inning later, the Dogs produced their best chance at a comeback by loading the bases with one out. Georgia managed to scrape across two runs on a single hit, but Ryan Jones was able to stop the bleeding with two crucial strikeouts.
“Jones came in a very tight situation and really delivered,” Mau said. “He got the ground ball we needed but unfortunately we couldn’t handle it. Then he stepped up in a big way with back-to-back punchouts to end the inning. Ryan has been tremendous for us and continues to make high pressure pitches when it counts most.”
Jones returned after shutting down the eighth-inning rally and earned the first two outs of the ninth before ceding to Brandon Vick to create a left-on-left matchup.
Vick induced a quick fly out off the bat of Nichols, who homered in the seventh, to strand a pair of runners and earn his first career save. While it was only one out, something clicked for Vick in the cool Georgia night.
“It was great to see Vick come in and finish off a big game,” said Mau. “After a slow start to this season, he looked like he was back to his old form. I believe today’s outing is the turning point for great things to come for Brandon.”
With the win, Longwood has now won three-straight games and four of its last five. The Lancers will go for the series victory tomorrow at 2 p.m. on the SEC Network+ and ESPN3.