The Oglethorpe baseball team found themselves down 4-1 entering the sixth inning on a cold afternoon in Conway, Arkansas, but they came through with three runs in that frame to tie the game, then pushed across the game-winning run in the ninth for a 5-4 victory over the homestanding Hendrix Warriors. The Stormy Petrels improved to 21-11 overall and 11-5 in SAA play with the victory, maintaining their position in third place in the league. They now sit just a game behind a tie for the conference lead with Berry and Rhodes.
With the game tied at 4-4 in the top of the ninth, the Petrels got a 1-out, pinch-hit double from senior Bobby Rezac. Sophomore Sam Buchanan pinch-ran for him, and senior center fielder Jarvis Miller followed by ripping a double to center field, scoring Buchanan as the go-ahead run and giving Oglethorpe a 5-4 lead. The Petrels left the bases loaded, though, meaning they only enjoyed a narrow, 1-run edge.
Sophomore right-hander Jack Bartlewski checked into the game on the mound to try and close things out. He got a couple of quick outs, but then gave up a double and a walk, putting runners at first and second. Bartlewski induced a popout on the next batter, though, securing the Oglethorpe victory and his seventh save of the season.
Down 4-1 in the top of the sixth, Oglethorpe responded like they have all season long and worked their way back into the game. Miller reached on an error to lead off, then senior right fielder Patrick Burnette doubled down the left-field line to put runners at second and third. Senior designated hitter Adrian Celata followed with a 2-run double down the left-field line to make the score 4-3 and put himself in scoring position. After a hit batsman and lineout to right, the latter of which allowed Celata to advance to third, freshman catcher Alec Babb came through with a game-tying single. The Petrels left the bases loaded to end the frame, but were able to secure the victory with their ninth-inning rally.
Freshman right-hander Christopher Keane got the win in relief and improved to 4-0 on the season. He didn't allow a run or a hit through three innings, walking a batter and hitting a batter. Sophomore right-hander Noah Cole got the start and allowed four runs on three hits over three innings, walking five and hitting two.
The teams exchanged runs in the first inning. The Petrels put runners at the corners with nobody out after a Miller single and a couple of Hendrix errors, and Celata came through with a sacrifice fly to give the Petrels an early lead. However, the Warriors cashed in a walk and a hit batsman for an equalizer in the bottom half of the inning, then worked around a double play with three walks and a wild pitch to give themselves the lead in the third. Sean Dehne ended the sequence with a 2-run homer, giving the home side a 4-1 lead.
Celata went 2-for-4 with a double, a sacrifice fly, three RBIs and a run scored. Babb went 2-for-4, as well, with an RBI and a stolen base.
"I'm proud of our guys," said Oglethorpe head coach Dan Giordano. "We once again found a way to battle back and win. We got big hits from some guys, and our bullpen was outstanding, as it has been all year."
The two teams competed with temperatures in the low 40s in Arkansas on Saturday. Saturday was previously slated for a doubleheader, but a wintry mix of precipitation and temperatures in the 30s forced the doubleheader to be moved to Sunday at noon Eastern. The start time of Saturday's single game was pushed to 4:30 (3:30 local time), as well. The two teams will complete the 3-game set on Sunday with a 9-inning Game 1, followed by a 7-inning Game 2.
Berry and Rhodes sit tied atop the SAA at 12-4 in league play after the Vikings defeated the Lynx in the first of a 3-game set Saturday in Mount Berry. Those two teams will also face off in a doubleheader on Sunday, with the Petrels starting the day just a game back of both of them. Oglethorpe has moved three games ahead of fourth-place Millsaps.