The Covenant baseball team scored 19 runs on 26 hits in two games combined to sweep USA South foe Piedmont on Saturday afternoon. The Scots took game one 11-8 and then wrapped up the three-game series sweep with an 8-3 victory in the day's second game.
Covenant moves to 9-5 overall and 6-3 in the USA South. The sweep marks the second time this season that the Scots have swept a USA South foe at home as they did it to North Carolina Wesleyan on Feb. 28-March 1. Piedmont drops to 12-6 overall and 5-4 in league play.
Will Cleland was the hottest hitter for the Scots on this day. The junior went 7-for-10 with two doubles, three triples and three RBIs.
GAME ONE: Covenant 11, Piedmont 8
Cleland went 4-for-5 with two RBIs and set a new program record with three triples as Covenant held off Piedmont 11-8 in Saturday's first game.
Garrett Kriston was effective on the mound for Covenant. Kriston (3-1) notched his third win of the season by going seven innings and allowing four earned runs on eight hits with four strikeouts. Scott Gillespie closed the door on Piedmont in the ninth to earn his first save of the season.
Covenant set the tone early with five runs on five hits in the first inning off Piedmont starting pitcher Chris Goershel. Four of the runs came with two outs as Perry Rigby, Will Carlton, Forrest Hunter and Chris Rollins all had RBI hits with two away.
Piedmont scored twice in the sixth, but Cleland's third triple of the game drove in Hunter in the bottom half of the sixth to give the Scots a 6-2 lead. Piedmont once again cut into the deficit with three runs in the seventh, but the Scots answered with four more in their half of the frame. Carlton and Hunter each had RBI singles in the seventh and KC Simons capped the inning with an RBI triple to make it 10-5.
After the visiting Lions made it 10-8 with three more runs in the eighth, Rigby launched his first home run of the season, a solo shot to left field, for the final tally.
Hunter went 4-for-4 with two runs and two RBIs for the Scots, while Rigby and Carlton each had two hits and two RBIs.
Keith Grabowski went 3-for-4 with a pair of RBIs to lead the Lions offensively. Josh Bailey, Daniel Lindsey and Michael Barnes each had two hits apiece. Goershel (3-1) was tagged with the loss for Piedmont after surrendering eight earned runs on 11 hits in six innings.
GAME TWO: Covenant 8, Piedmont 3
The Scots completed the three-game sweep of Piedmont with an 8-3 win behind a strong outing on the mound from Alhanon Miller and three more hits from Cleland.
Miller (2-2) went seven innings and allowed two earned runs while scattering eight hits and striking out five. The right-hander threw 102 pitches in his outing, 75 of which were strikes. Jordan Lester came on in relief to throw two scoreless innings.
Just like in game one, Covenant scored first. This time, the Scots scratched two runs across in the first inning on a pair of sacrifice flies by David Lockwood and Gillespie after Simons led off with a walk and Cleland doubled.
Piedmont tied the score at 2-2 with two runs in the third inning. Griffin Olson laid down a RBI sacrifice bunt and Josh Bailey singled home Grabowski to knot the score. Again Covenant had a response as Paul Phillips lifted a sacrifice fly to center field that plated Lockwood to give the Scots a 4-2 lead after three innings.
The Scots effectively put the game out of reach with four runs in the fourth. Chris Rollins led off the inning with a double and later scored after consecutive singles from Simons and Cleland. Later in the inning, Gillespie drove home Simons with a single and a dropped fly ball by Piedmont's left fielder allowed two more Covenant runners to score to make it 8-2.
Cleland went 3-for-5 with a run and an RBI, while Simons and Gillespie had two hits apiece. Gillespie tallied two RBIs.
Piedmont starter Preston Graham (3-3) gets the loss after giving up four earned runs on seven hits in four innings. Grabowski and Will Skidmore each had two hits.
Covenant will return to the diamond on Tuesday for a non-conference tilt with Berry. First pitch is set for 3 p.m.