KODAK, Tenn. – The Lions' lost a heart-breaker Friday night to Newberry 7-6 in the 2017 Pilot/Flying J South Atlantic Conference Baseball Tournament at the Smokies Stadium. Mars Hill fell to 29-20 while the Wolves improved to 32-19. The Lions will face Catawba on Saturday, April 29, at 3:45 p.m.
Hunter Merrill led MHU at the plate going 4-5 with a double, a stolen base and two runs scored. Brett Brubaker followed going 2-4 with a homerun and a double. Jared Matthewson suffered the loss (3-1) on the mound throwing 1.2 innings in relief.
Jeff Sneed led the Wolves offensively with three hits, the same number of runs scored and a double. Derek Olenchuk and Ben Herring recorded two hits and two RBI apiece. Olenchuk added a triple. Barrett Walton picked up the win (1-0) on the mound obtaining the last two outs in the top of the ninth inning.
The Lions took a 1-0 lead in their first at-bat after Matt Honeycutt drove in Merrill on a fielder's choice. Merrill doubled to left field in the third inning to drive in Devin Mangum and then Honeycutt singled through the right side to plate Merrill and extend the Lions' advantage to 3-0.
In the top of the fourth inning, Travis Owens crossed the plate on a wild pitch before Mangum hit a sacrifice fly to center field to score Gray McCurry and give Mars Hill a 5-0 lead. Brubaker hit a long homerun over the right field wall in the top of the fifth frame to extend the Lions' advantage to 6-0. Sneed scored on a Lion error in the bottom half of the fifth inning to put the Wolves on the board (6-1).
Newberry trimmed the Lions' lead to 6-4 in the bottom of the seventh inning. Sneed was sent to the plate on a bases loaded walk before Olenchuk singled up the middle to drive in Colin Santiago and Herring. Mathewson entered the game with two outs and runners on first and second and struck out Daymon Totherow to end the Wolves rally.
The Wolves knotted the game at 6-all in the eighth inning on three hits and one Lion error. Herring singled to left field to score Sneed and then Tyler White hit a ground rule double down the left field line to send Herring to the plate.
After a Danton Hyman flied out to right field to start the Wolves ninth at-bat, Olenchuck tripled to left-center field. Mars Hill intentionally walked the next two batters to setup the double-play and a force at every base. Kaleb McCurry struck out Sneed for the second out but then Herring drew a bases loaded walk on a full count to send Olenchuk to the plate for the game winning score.