The Covenant baseball team was one out away from winning its inaugural game in the NCCAA World Series. Unfortunately for the Scots, Arizona Christian had other ideas.
ACU's Phil Creecy singled in the game-tying run in the bottom of the seventh with two outs and Trevor Santor followed with a three-run walk-off home run as the Firestorm came back to claim an 8-5 win on day one of the NCCAA World Series.
Covenant falls to 0-1 in pool play. ACU goes to 1-1 after they fell to Olivet Nazarene 9-1 earlier in the day.
On the biggest stage the Scots have ever played on in modern program history, Covenant showed no signs of early nerves and jitters. The Scots scored twice in the top of the first inning to take an early 2-0 lead.
Will Cleland began the game with a single to right field, David Lockwood followed and reached on a fielding error on the ACU second baseman, and Scott Gillespie was walked to load the bases with nobody out. Sterling Witt bounced into an RBI fielder's choice allowing Cleland to score and Perry Rigby made it 2-0 with an RBI single to left field.
The Covenant advantage would last until the bottom of the second inning when the Firestorm produced three runs. Joel Thys tripled home a run and later scored himself on a Orrin Sears RBI ground out. Creecy gave ACU a 3-2 edge as he hit a solo home run, his ninth of the season, to right field.
ACU would add to its lead in the fourth as Santor drove in a run with a single to left-center field making it 4-2.
Covenant would respond in a big way, however.
The Scots managed to scratch across two runs, both coming with two outs, in the sixth inning to tie the score. After two were retired to start the frame, Lockwood hit a ground-rule double to left field. Gillespie then worked a walk and Witt came through with a single that plated Lockwood. Rigby knotted the score at 4-4 with a soft single to left field as the Scots came alive in their dugout.
Covenant wasn't done as starter Alhanon Miller worked out of a first and second nobody out jam without allowing a run to score in the bottom of the sixth. The Scots then seized the lead in the top of the seventh.
Paul Phillips was hit by a pitch to leadoff the inning and K.C. Simons followed with a single to allow a hustling Phillips to advance to third. Reid Pope lofted a fly ball to left field that was just deep enough to score Phillips from third to give the Scots a 5-4 lead.
But in the bottom of the seventh, ACU rallied. With a runner at first and two outs, Sears singled to put runners at the corners. That brought in Scots relief pitcher Alec Mitchell. Creecy singled and then Santor put the game away with his blast to left field.
Miller started for the Scots and went 6.2 innings allowing six earned runs on eight hits while throwing 111 pitches. The tall right-hander worked into and then out of several jams to keep his team in the game. Mitchell (5-5) is hit with the loss.
Rigby led Covenant's 10-hit attack with a 3-for-4 day driving in a pair of runs. Cleland and Lockwood each contributed two hits and Witt added two RBIs.
ACU reliever Alika Pruett (3-3) is credited with the win as he went the final 1.1 innings. Starter Tanner Tripp surrendered four runs, three earned, on nine hits in 5.2 innings. Santor had four RBIs and two hits for the Firestorm.
On Thursday, Covenant will play fellow Mid-East region member and No. 2 seed Campbellsville at 2 p.m. followed by a tilt with Emmanuel at 5 p.m. Check the schedule page, Facebook, or Twitter with links to live video (pay-per-view) and live stats (free).
Current Pool B Standings:
Olivet Nazarene 1-0
Arizona Christian 1-1