LaGrange College baseball rallies twice in late innings to sweep N.C. Wesleyan

Published 1:30 pm Monday, March 14, 2022

ROCKY MOUNT, N.C. – No. 15 LaGrange rallied twice in the late innings to sweep N.C. Wesleyan on Sunday at Bauer Field in a rematch of the 2021 USA South Tournament championship series. The Panthers (14-1) won 12-9 in Game 1, then completed the sweep with a 2-1 Game 2 win.

Both teams had strong starting pitching in the twinbill. Bailey Coleman went six innings in the first game for the Panthers, allowing three runs but only one was earned. He walked one and matched his season high with seven strikeouts. The Bishops’ Derrick Carter allowed only a McKinley Erves solo home run in six innings, walking four and striking out six.

In the second game, Dalton Brooks started for LC. He gave up a run on two hits in seven innings, walked four and struck out a season-high nine. Drew Tubb pitched seven scoreless innings for the Bishops, allowing only two hits, walking two, and struck out five. He faced the minimum through four innings.

But the Panthers did their damage against the Bishops’ bullpen. In Game 1, LC scored 11 of its 12 runs in the final three innings. In the second game, the Panthers got both of their runs after Tubb exited the game.

The Bishops took a 1-0 lead in the second game off Brooks on Drifton Padgett’s third inning RBI double. Jack Layrisson singled to lead off the fifth for LC’s first hit off Tubbs. Adam Dorn had a two-out base hit in the sixth.

In the eighth, reliever Dylan Cheeley (0-1) got the first out of the inning. Gabriel Pallo, making his first start of the season in right, hit Cheeley’s first pitch over the left field fence to tie the game. It was the first collegiate home run for Pallo.

Layrisson walked to lead off the ninth and moved up to second on a wild pitch. Matt Eden laid down a perfect bunt for a hit to put runners on the corners. Nate Darwin singled to left to bring in Layrisson with the go-ahead run. The Panthers would load the bases with no outs but were unable to capitalize.

Kramer came on for Michael Menheart (2-0) in the ninth. Menheart pitched a scoreless eighth inning. Kramer pitched around a walk and an error to get his second save of the day and sixth of the season. The Bishops managed just two hits in the game.

In the first game, the Panthers took their first lead of the game with a three-run seventh off reliever Daniel Thompson (0-1). LC took advantage of two errors in the inning to score three unearned runs. Dorn’s two-run single capped the inning.

The Bishops came back with four runs in their half of the inning off reliever Jack Richards to retake the lead. But LC answered with five runs in the eighth inning to grab a 9-7 lead. Dorn and Matt Eden had run-scoring singles, while Joe Ruth drove in two more runs with a single.

LC added three insurance runs in the ninth to build a 12-7 lead. The Panthers needed only two hits in the inning as the Bishops committed three more errors. Padgett hit a two-run home run off Kramer, who got his fifth save by pitching the final two innings, in the ninth for the 12-9 final.

Ashton Shackleford (1-0) got the win, getting the final two outs of the seventh inning.

The Panthers play at Emory on March 15, starting at 3 p.m.