WILMORE, Ky. — The Asbury Eagles found the bottom of the eighth inning to be a good place when looking for big hits on Saturday afternoon.
Not once, but twice.
Colton Back delivered a go-ahead, three-run triple in game one, while Hunter Noble had a one-out, game-winning RBI single in game two to help the Eagles post a doubleheader sweep of the University of Rio Grande and series win over the RedStorm in River States Conference baseball action at Cecil Zweifel Field.
Back’s three-bagger in the opener produced a 7-6 victory, while Noble’s hit closed out an extra inning, 2-1 walkoff triumph in the nightcap.
Asbury finished the day at 15-16 overall and 7-9 in conference play.
Rio Grande, which cruised to a win in the series opener on Friday night, dropped to 26-14 overall and 11-7 in the RSC with the disappointing losses.
The RedStorm coughed up a 4-2 lead in the opener when the host Eagles scored twice, but regained the advantage by scoring single markers in both the seventh and eighth innings.
A throwing error produced the go-ahead run in the seventh, while a squeeze bunt by junior Kent Reeser (Miamisburg, OH) brought home the insurance run in the eighth.
The lead evaporated quickly, though, thanks to a two-out rally by the hosts in home half of the frame.
Paul Haupt sandwiched a single in between a groundout and a flyout to begin the inning, before a single by Joey Stenger and a walk to Alejandro Jivanjee loaded the bases.
Sophomore reliever Caleb Fetzer (Van Wert, OH) was lifted in favor of junior Dylan Shockley (Minford, OH), but the strategy backfired when Back hit a 1-1 pitch into the gap for a bases-clearing triple and a one-run lead.
Austin Shaw, the last of three Asbury pitchers, retired the RedStorm in order to seal the win.
Shockley went 3-for-5 with three doubles and a pair of runs batted in for Rio, while senior Roanderson Severino (Reading, PA) also had three hits and drove in a run and Reeser finished 2-for-4 with an RBI.
Junior Eli Daniels (Minford, OH) added a double for the RedStorm in a losing cause.
Fetzer suffered his third loss in five decisions, allowing three hits, a pair of walks and three runs over 2-1/3 innings.
In addition to Back, who finished 2-for-4 with the three RBI, Asbury got four hits – including a home run – and three runs batted in from Trevor Campbell.
Haupt finished 3-for-5 win the win, while Stenger, Jivanjee and Josh Blancet all had two hits each in the win.
Shaw picked up the win after allowing a hit, two walks and a run over 2-2/3 innings.
Offense was at much more of a premium in game two, with the two squads combining for just 11 hits – all singles.
Rio grabbed a 1-0 lead in the fourth inning when Daniels and Severino led off with back-to-back singles, both moved into scoring position on sacrifice bunt and Daniels scored on a sacrifice fly by junior Caden Cluxton (Washington Court House, OH).
The Eagles tied the game in the bottom of the inning when a walk and consecutive hit batsmen loaded the bases and Back followed with a run-scoring fielder’s choice grounder to shortstop.
That’s how things stayed until the home half of the eighth when Jivanjee and Back had back-to-back one-out singles, a double steal put both runners in scoring position and, after Rio lifted senior starter Pierce Knisley (Chillicothe, OH) in favor of freshman Clayton Surrell (Carroll, OH), Noble singled home Jivanjee with the winning run.
Back finished 2-for-3 in the win for Asbury, while Severino had two hits in the loss for the RedStorm.
Knisley was the hard-luck loser for Rio, despite allowing just five hits and two runs over 7-1/3 innings.
Andrew Spalding earned the win in relief for the Eagles, allowing a walk and striking out three over four hitless, scoreless innings.
Rio Grande is scheduled to return to action on Tuesday afternoon in a non-conference doubleheader at Campbellsville University.
First pitch for game one is set for 2 p.m.
Randy Payton is the Sports Information Director at the University of Rio Grande.