JACKSON (Belhaven University Athletics) - The Belhaven baseball team bounced back from a tough three game Southern States Athletic Conference series at Southern Polytechnic State with a 4-1 Maloney Series victory Tuesday afternoon at Millsaps College. The Blazers, ranked 23rd in the latest NAIA Top 25 Coaches' Poll, won the season series with the Majors 2-1 and in the process snapped a three game losing skid.
The Blazers and Majors now each sit at 3-2 in the 2014 Cowboy-Maloney series with each having a game left against the Mississippi College Choctaws.
"We came out today and played well after a tough weekend and I'm very happy to get a win," Belhaven Head Coach Hill Denson said. "We had a plan going in to use a lot of pitchers and they all went out and did the job today. Andrew Gunn's ability to work out of a jam with runners on first and third with nobody out in the sixth was a huge key in the game."
Belhaven (33-14) got to work early in the top of first with a manufactured run. Centerfielder Reagan Rutledge led off with a walk, stole second, and moved to third base on a wild pitch. Right fielder Emilio DeSilva cashed in Rutledge on a sacrifice fly for a 1-0 Belhaven lead. Rutledge and DeSilva caused the Majors fits all afternoon. Each player collected two hits and one run batted in while Rutledge scored twice and swiped four bases giving him 51 on the season.
Millsaps (19-16) tied the game up in the third, but the Blazers rallied in the fifth with a run to take the lead for good. With one down and a runner on third, Rutledge singled to left plating third baseman Gabe Wilson for what would be the winning run.
The Majors threatened to turn the tide in the sixth, but relief pitcher Andrew Gunn was up to the challenge. Right fielder William Chenoweth led off with a single followed by another base hit by DH Andrew Rafferty that put runners on first and third. Gunn ran the count to 1-2 on shortstop Samuel Doucet before picking off Rafferty at first base. Gun struck out Doucet on the next pitch and got catcher Blake Littlejohn on a groundout to short to end the sixth.
With momentum on their side, the Blazers added two insurance runs in the seventh on a sacrifice fly by second baseman Paul Pickerrell and a perfectly executed squeeze play from catcher Hunter Sutton accounted for the second. The bullpen did the rest, capped by a scoreless ninth inning from Tyler Akins for his 16th save of the year.
Joining the two hit club for Belhaven was Wilson who ended the day 2 for 2 with a run scored. He also drew two walks and reached base four times. Left fielder Dominick Francia and Josiah Richard rounded the box score out with one each apiece. Boomer Scarborough earned the win in relief and moved to 6-6 on the season with a scoreless fourth inning on the hill. Richard Richardson allowed the only Millsaps run of the game in the third inning.
Millsaps was led by Rafferty who collected three hits in four trips to the plate. Chenoweth, left fielder Stephen Gates, and catcher Blake Littlejohn each ended the contest with one hit. West Hammond (1-1) suffered the loss out of the bullpen, allowing one run on two hits with two walks and one strikeout.
Belhaven will be back in action on Wednesday afternoon when the team hosts Tougaloo College at Smith-Wills Stadium. The first pitch is slated for 4:00 PM.