The Oglethorpe baseball team found themselves behind 12-3 in the middle of the fourth inning Wednesday night at Anderson Field. They didn't give up, though. On the contrary, they emphatically fought back, outscoring the visiting Piedmont Lions 17-4 the rest of the way en route to a wild 20-16 victory which improved the Stormy Petrels to 13-11 on the season.
The Petrels led 2-1 after the opening frame, but the Lions scored 10 runs in the top of the third inning, six of them of the unearned variety, to turn the game on its head and take an 11-2 lead. The Petrels answered back with a long home run from senior right fielder Brandon Fish in the bottom half of the inning, drawing a run closer, but Piedmont got the run back in the top of the fourth, making the score 12-3. The Petrels got to work from there, though.
They got their offense going in the bottom half of the inning, and celebrated a milestone in the process. After junior designated hitter Bobby Rezac got hit by a pitch and Fish walked, junior catcher Adrian Celata came through with a towering 3-run homer, a shot that broke the Oglethorpe career home run record of 22 previously set by Brendan Pilger. Not willing to settle for watching Celata launch his 23rd career homer, sophomore first baseman Andrew Mink stepped to the plate next and launched a high drive over the left-center fence for back-to-back home runs, giving Oglethorpe a manageable 12-7 deficit.
They continued to add on runs in the fifth. Junior third baseman Connor Crooke led off the frame with a home run to left to make the scored 12-8. Then with two out in the inning, junior center fielder Jarvis Miller and Rezac reached on consecutive infield singles. Fish came up next and rocketed a 2-run double into the gap in left-center, scoring Miller and Rezac and drawing the Petrels to within just two, 12-10.
Piedmont did not go quietly, and they answered back with a pair of runs in the sixth to extend their advantage back out to four runs, 14-10. The Petrels would not be denied, though. Miller and Rezac led off the seventh with back-to-back walks, then Fish singled Miller home to make it 14-11. A Celata walk loaded the bases, and a Lion passed ball brought home the second Petrel tally of the inning to make it 14-12. After a strikeout, the Petrels finally made it all the way back when junior second baseman Matt Motz tripled into the left-center gap, scoring the tying runs to make it 14-14, still with only one out. Crooke followed and reached on a Piedmont error, scoring Motz to give Oglethorpe the lead, 15-14.
Piedmont tallied a game-tying run off a run-scoring double with two on and two out in the eighth, but they failed to take the lead after the potential go-ahead run tripped rounding third base. He got to his feet and attempted to score the run anyway, but the batter was thrown out trying to stretch a double into a triple before the run crossed the plate, ending the inning and leaving the score tied at 15-15.
The Petrels came back and put the game away in the bottom of the inning. Araujo was hit by a pitch, and Miller and Rezac followed with a single and a walk, respectively. A Piedmont wild pitch brought Araujo home with the go-ahead run, but the Petrels added even more on. Mink doubled down the left-field line to drive in two, and Crooke came through with a 2-run single up the middle to extend Oglethorpe's lead out to 20-15.
Piedmont managed to draw a run closer in the ninth, but they never got the potential tying run closer than the on-deck circle.
Freshman Preston Vegotsky picked up his second win in as many nights, pitching the final inning-and-a-third and allowing just a single unearned run on 2 hits and 2 walks. He improved to 3-2 on the season. Freshman right-hander Austin Manuel also pitched well for the Petrels during the middle innings, helping to facilitate the Oglethorpe comeback. He went 2 1/3 innings and allowed just 1 run on 1 hit, walking three and striking out 2.
On the offensive side, Fish went 3-for-4 with a home run, a double, 2 walks, 4 RBIs and 4 runs scored. Meanwhile, Celata enjoyed a 2-for-3 night with a home run, 3 walks, 4 RBIs and 3 runs scored. Miller and Rezac both went 2-for-4 with 4 runs scored, as Miller walked twice and Rezac walked once and stole a base. Mink finished his evening 3-for-6 with a home run, a double, 3 RBIs and 2 runs scored.
The two teams combined for 28 hits, Oglethorpe outhitting Piedmont 16-12, one night after the Petrels and Huntingdon combined for 8 hits in a 4-2 pitcher's duel. Oglethorpe pitching delivered 15 free passes, walking 12 and hitting three batters, while Piedmont combined for 13, walking 11 and hitting two.
"I can't say enough about the resolve of our guys," said Oglethorpe head coach Dan Giordano. "I love the fight and the never-quit attitude our guys brought during this comeback today. There were so many big hits, plays and pitches in that game that it's tough to remember them all. I love the momentum we're taking into our 3-game series with Centre this weekend."
The Petrels will take on the visiting Colonels Saturday and Sunday at Anderson Field. Saturday will feature a doubleheader, which is set to start at 2 p.m. On Sunday, the two teams will play a single game beginning at 1 p.m.