April 30, 2008

Saints Split with Flagler to open final series

North Georgia will look to take series over next two days

ST. AUGUSTINE, FL - North Georgia College & State University opened their final regular season series of the year this afternoon at Flagler College, taking a 5-4 extra-inning thriller in the opener, and falling 5-3 in the second game of the doubleheader Wednesday evening in non-conference action.

In the opener, North Georgia (35-19) had to go to extra innings to earn the victory. In the top of the 10th, lead-off hitter Chad Sage struck out, but the ball got loose from Flagler catcher Kyle Foti, who corralled the ball but his throw went down the right-field line allowing Sage to take second base. Davy Wallach came in to run for Sage and was moved over to third on a ground out and would score on another ground out.

North Georgia reliever Zack Black (2-3) retired the first two hitters in Flagler's half of the 10th, but pinch hitter Alex Brull grounded to North Georgia second baseman Logan Sharrett whose throw went into the dirt at first base and Brull was safe. Caleb Copeland came in to face one batter and induced a groundout to earn his third save of the season.

North Georgia grabbed an early 1-0 lead on Craig Brisson's lead-off home run, his seventh this year, in the third inning. Josh Tate added an RBI single and Sage hit a sacrifice fly and the Saints took a 3-0 lead.

Flagler (25-23) got a run back on Joey Rivera's sixth home run of the season in the fourth.

Both teams scored a run in the eighth, but Billy Johnson hit a two-run home run in the bottom of the ninth with two out to tie the game.

Black went one scoreless and hitless inning and stuck out one to earn the win. Starter Michael Patton tossed 8 2/3 innings, allowed eight hits, four runs and struck out 10 while throwing a total of 142 pitches.

Sage led North Georgia with two singles and an RBI, while both teams combined to leave 21 men on base.

In the nightcap, Flagler used a four-run fourth inning to erase a 3-1 deficit en route to a 5-3 victory.

Johnson led off the frame with a single to center and Glenn Kiture drew a walk. Payne Maddox laid down a sacrifice bunt, but North Georgia starter Jesse Coxwell (1-2) threw errantly to third base allowing Johnson to score and Kiture advanced to third with Maddox taking second. Steve Simmons drove in Kiture with a ground out to tie the game at 3-3 and West singled in Maddox to give Flagler the lead. Drew Dades followed with a ball into the right-center field gap, but Dades rounded second without seeing that West held up at third. West then broke for home as the throw went into third base where Dades was safe and West scored.

Lenny Sergnese (2-1), making his first appearance since Mar. 19, went five innings, scattered six hits, allowed one earned run and fanned a career-best six batters. Brandon Rapoza came on in the seventh and struck out the side to tie the school single-season record in saves with nine. Andy Hirko recorded nine saves in 2002.

Kenny Ray singled, doubled and drove in a run for Flagler. Dades doubled, tripled, scored a run and drove in another.

Coxwell went five innings, allowed six hits and four earned runs. Jacob Rickett quelled a Flagler rally in the sixth. Andre Airich and Daniel Petitti each singled doubled and scored a run for North Georgia.

North Georgia (35-19) will play single games against these same Saints from Flagler College Thursday and Friday to close out the regular season.