MOUNT OLIVE, N.C. – In a matchup of two teams that powered through to conference tournament championships, the Peach Belt Conference (PBC) Champion Georgia College Baseball team (35-15) came up short in walk-off fashion to South Atlantic Conference (SAC) Tournament Champion Lincoln Memorial University (34-18) 7-6 Friday at the NCAA Southeast Regional.
The loss eliminates the No. 6-seed Bobcats from the tournament, while the No. 7-seed Railsplitters move on through the losers' bracket. LMU got a walk-off sacrifice fly in the bottom of the ninth for the victory.
Down 6-0 to the Railsplitters after five innings, the Bobcat bats came alive starting in the seventh. Designated hitter Phillip Stiles (Lumberton, New Jersey) yanked a double down the leftfield line, scoring Nate Schmal (Cumming, Georgia) who got on via a single. That run started the ball rolling for the offensive-minded Bobcats.
Three more came across in the eighth, as catcher Brandon Purcell (Glennville, Georgia) lifted a triple down the rightfield line to score a pair, then came in to score himself on a groundout. Needing two in the ninth to tie, the Bobcats got just that.
Third baseman Cal Gentry (Perry, Georgia) led with a single, followed by a run-scoring double by Brandon Benson (Loganville, Georgia). After two outs, Purcell singled up the middle to tie the game, setting up LMU's heroics in the bottom of the ninth.
A leadoff single by Seth Hunt got the Railsplitters' inning started. After a sacrifice bunt came two walks to load the bases with one out. Timmy Wages then lifted a ball to left, deep enough for the sacrifice fly and the 7-6 win.
Purcell finished 3-for-5 with three RBIs and a run, while Gentry and Benson each had 2-for-5 games. Gentry scored a run, while Benson scored twice and drove in another. Schmal added a 2-for-3 game with a run to the cause.
The loss brings a close to the 2017 season for Georgia College, a 35-15 season taking the No. 3-seed in the Peach Belt Tournament after going 16-8 in league play. The Bobcats were an offensive juggernaut, leading the country in batting average and runs per contest. GC Baseball put six on the All-PBC Teams, with Benson being named the PBC and Southeast Region Player of the Year, while Gentry has taken a slot on the All-Region teams as well.
The Georgia College Department of Athletics, two-time winners of the PBC Commissioner's Cup, sponsors 11 varsity athletic programs at the NCAA Division II level. As a Division II program, Bobcat Athletics prides itself on balancing the life of the student-athlete, evidenced by the teams' multiple appearances in post-season competition as well as documented academic success and community-service involvement. Sign up at @GCBobcats on social media for up-to-the-minute reports, and visit GCBobcats.PhotoReflect.com to purchase photo prints from home athletic contests.