May 8, 2011

Saints Roll Past #21 Pirates Behind Hobby's Shutout

COLUMBUS, GA - North Georgia baseball team made it a clean sweep for the lower seeds on day one of the 2011 Peach Belt Conference baseball championships on Sunday, as they took a 5-0 win over Armstrong Atlantic State in the final game of the day.  NGC entered the tournament as the #3 seed from the PBC's West Division, while AASU came in as the #2 seed from the East.

The Saints (33-18) rode the arm of right-hander Blake Hobby into Monday's winners' bracket date with Lander at 7:30 p.m.  Hobby surrendered just two hits – one in the first inning and the other in the second – before a ninth-inning single by Drew Walker.  He walked five and fanned six in moving to 7-3 on the year. He lowered his ERA from 1.93 to 1.76 in tossing his second shutout of the season.

Hobby got all the run support he would need via the long ball early in the game.  Chad Sage launched a two-out, opposite-field homer to right field in the top of the second inning, while Jordan Erisman followed an inning later with a solo shot to left to make it 2-0.

The Saints got a pair of insurance runs in the sixth inning, taking advantage of three walks by Pirate starter Chris Base.  Base loaded the bases after one out in the frame and then surrendered a run-scoring single to Kenny Bellavance and an RBI groundout to Sage to make it 4-0. NGC then got an RBI single from Erisman to close the scoring in the seventh. That hit plated Dustin Carpenter, who led off the inning with a double.

AASU got a pair of runners aboard just twice in the game and had a runner in scoring position in just one other inning against Hobby. Two walks in the fourth put a runner in scoring position, but the threat was ended on a fly out, while a single and a walk in the ninth, followed by a groundout put a pair of runners in scoring position in the ninth. Hobby closed out the game by getting pinch-hitter Lawrence Jackson to chop to shortstop.

Erisman was the only player in the game to have multiple hits for either squad. The junior third-sacker went 3-5 and drove in a pair of runs. Sage added two RBI, while Bellavance drove in the other NGC run. The Saints collected eight hits as a team in the contest.

Alex Frederick, Walker, and Mike Barnhill had the three hits for AASU. Base took the loss as he went 6.1 innings and allowed five hits and five earned runs. He struck out four and walked three. Blake Culberson pitched two scoreless innings and Cody Powell did not allow a run in two-thirds of an inning of work.

AASU will face Columbus State, 3-2 loser to Lander in Sunday's third game, on Monday at 4 p.m. in an elimination game. North Georgia will take on Lander at 7:30 in a winners' bracket contest. Earlier in the day on Monday, Georgia College and Francis Marion will play an elimination game at 9 a.m., followed by Augusta State and UNC Pembroke at 12:30.