GGC baseball rallies to stay alive in conference tournament

LYNN, Mass. — Down to its last out, the Georgia Gwinnett College baseball team rallied to stay alive Sunday in the Association of Independent Institutions Baseball championship tournament with a pair of victories, advancing to championship day on Monday.

First, the Grizzlies picked up a two-out single in the bottom of the 10th inning for a walk-off win over host Fisher, 4-3, before outlasting second-seeded LSU Alexandria, 5-2.

Top-seeded Georgia Gwinnett (47-10) advances to Monday afternoon’s title game, where it will play the winner of Houston-Victoria and LSU Alexandria.

After spotting host Fisher a 3-0 lead, GGC rallied for a 4-3 win in 10 innings to stay alive in the tournament, capped by senior Sloan Strickland’s two-out winning single.

The Grizzlies were down 3-2 heading into the ninth, but used a two-out single by senior Pat Long to score the tying run and send the game into extras.

Grizzlies starter Adam Clark struck out five batters over 6.0 innings, but the Falcons scored once in the third inning and added two more scores in the fourth to jump on top.

Reliever Ryan Turner kept GGC within striking distance with three scoreless, no-hit innings.

Georgia Gwinnett, the designated home team, got on the board in the fifth inning without getting a hit. With runners on the corners, the Grizzlies executed a double-steal to bring home Zach Alvord to make it 3-1.

In the sixth, the Grizzlies got the bats going with a single from Robbie Payne and a two-out double by Strickland to bring GGC within one at 3-2.

Neither team scored in the seventh or eighth innings and GGC would be down to its very last out in the bottom of the ninth.

With one out in the inning, Christian Van Camp doubled into right field. After a pop-up made it two away, pinch hitter Long singled through the left side to score pinch runner Antonio Allen from second and tie the game, 3-3.

After GGC and reliever Andy Threatt held the Falcons scoreless in the top of the 10th, the Grizzlies would push across the game-winner in the bottom of the inning.

After a groundout and a lineout, Ty Abbott walked and stole second base. Strickland singled into left field and Abbott beat the throw home to plate the game-winner.

Facing elimination once more later in the day, the Grizzlies handed LSU Alexandria — the lone unbeaten team in tournament play — a 5-2 defeat to advance to Monday’s championship.

Phillip Bates led the Grizzlies with a 2-for-4 effort with two RBIs while starting pitcher Sheldon Connor struck out five batters and allowed one earned run over 5.0 innings.

The Grizzlies built an early lead with three runs in the second inning. Two walks and a hit-by-pitch loaded the bases. Another walk to John Fidanza made it 1-0, and Phillip Bates’ two-run single down the left field line scored Garitt Church and Van Camp for a 3-0 advantage.

LSU Alexandria tallied two scores in the fourth inning, but relievers Jonathan Spitler and Zeke McGranahan combined to hold the Generals scoreless over the final four innings with three strikeouts.

In the eighth, the Grizzlies added some insurance scores with an RBI double from Robbie Payne and a sacrifice fly from Abbott to extend the lead to 5-2.

The Grizzlies capitalized on just six hits in the game and McGranahan’s four-out save was the senior’s sixth of the year.

The Grizzlies are now 6-1 against the Generals in seven games this season.