GGC baseball falls in slugfest, 13-12

LAWRENCEVILLE — The Georgia Gwinnett College baseball team used 17 hits to rally back from a 9-3 deficit, but fell in the ninth inning of a 13-12 loss to Covenant College Monday on a windy evening at the Grizzly Baseball Complex.

With steady gusts over 20 miles an hour, the Grizzlies and Scots combined for three home runs and 32 hits.

Junior Robbie Payne pushed his hit streak to 16 games with a 4-for-6 night, scoring three times and driving in three runs. Sloan Strickland’s bases-clearing double in the sixth brought the Grizzlies back from an 11-6 hole, but two Covenant scores in the final inning proved to be the difference.

Georgia Gwinnett (20-8) lost for just the second time on its home field while Covenant (16-4) earned its ninth win in 10 games.

“We had a great offensive night but we simply need to take better care of the ball defensively,” said Grizzlies head coach Brad Stromdahl.

“We came up with clutch hits when we needed them and we had good pitching performances from Angelo Lombardo and Antonio Allen,” Stromdahl added. “The bottom line is we just didn’t take care of the ball and it cost us against a quality club.”

The Grizzlies committed five errors on the night against the NCAA Division III Scots, who they had defeated on Friday by a 5-4 margin.

Covenant opened a 2-0 lead in the first inning Monday night.

The Grizzlies answered in the bottom of the inning as Phillip Bates ripped a leadoff triple and scored on a groundout. Payne and Pat Long followed with back-to-back doubles as GGC tied it, 2-2. Long came around to score on a defensive error as the Grizzlies briefly went in front.

Covenant then belted two home runs as part of a seven-run third inning to leap ahead, 9-3.

Payne drilled his first home run of the season in the bottom of the inning, a solo shot.

The Grizzlies added two in the fourth but Covenant picked up two more in their half of the fifth to stay ahead, 11-6.

Payne’s fourth hit of the day drove in Bates to start a four-run sixth for GGC. The Grizzlies then loaded the bases for Strickland, who cleared them with a three-run double into right-center to make it 11-10.

The Grizzlies put two aboard for Payne in the seventh, but a groundout ended the rally.

Allen took the mound for GGC and kept it close with two scoreless frames before the Grizzlies drew even in the eighth.

Billy Best’s two-out double in the eighth tied the game, scoring Strickland from first.

The Scots took advantage of a pair of defensive errors in the top of the ninth, however, using two key hits to take a 13-11 lead.

GGC refused to quit in the bottom of the ninth, scoring once on Justin White’s pinch-hit single. The Grizzlies brought the go-ahead run to the plate but a snared grounder by Scots pitcher Spencer Smith sealed the Covenant win.

Strickland finished the night with three hits while Allen, Bates, Long and Eli Green each had two.

Bates has 18 hits in the Grizzlies’ last 10 games.

Georgia Gwinnett returns to the diamond Wednesday with a doubleheader against Toccoa Falls College beginning at 2 p.m. in Lawrenceville.