BIRMINGHAM - The Rhodes baseball team won back-to-back games on Sunday afternoon to upset top seed Birmingham Southern and win the 2017 SAA Baseball title. The Lynx rallied to win game two 11-8 before hanging on to win game three, 4-3 to punch their ticket to the NCAA Tournament.
Championship recap via Rhodes sports information:
On March 3rd, the Rhodes College baseball team dropped their conference opener to Oglethorpe in game one of a three game series. The Lynx followed with two wins the following day to claim the series.
On March 18th, the Rhodes College baseball team dropped their series opener to Millsaps in game one of a three game series. The Lynx followed with two wins the to claim the series.
On April 14th, the Rhodes College baseball team dropped their series opener to Hendrix in game one of a three game series. The Lynx followed with two wins the to claim the series.
The moral of the story was the Lynx had been in this position before, dropping the first game of a series, but finding a way to battle back and win the three game series. On Saturday, Rhodes dropped a thrilling heartbreaker to top-seeded Birmingham-Southern and needed two wins on Sunday to claim the series.
They did just that, except this time, this series win resulted in a conference championship. Rhodes pounded 12 hits and used some late inning magic to claim an 11-8 win in game two and rode the arm of sophomore Nick Bosma in game three in a 4-3 win to claim their second Southern Athletic Association Conference Championship and their second title in three seasons.
For a fantastic senior group, they returned to same place where they won their first conference title, and the same place where they dropped a three game series just one year ago, this time, emerging as champions and preparing to return to NCAA Regionals for the third time in their careers.
In the first contest, in which the Lynx were the home team, Rhodes jumped out to a 1-0 lead as senior Bill Munson doubled and eventually scored on a wild pitch. BSC evened the game in the second, but Rhodes scored four runs in the next two innings thanks to a two RBI single from senior Bennett Notestine and RBI doubles from senior Ryan Olive and junior Levi Greenberg.
Birmingham-Southern scored one in the fourth and followed that up with a huge five run sixth inning to take a 7-5 advantage, looking as though they were on their way to their second straight SAA title.
However, the resilient Lynx had a response in the next three innings. Olive made it a one run game in the sixth thanks to a RBI single while Munson tied the game in the seventh with a RBI on a fielder's choice. Notestine pushed the Lynx ahead 8-7 later in the inning thanks to a suicide squeeze.
Rhodes was not done there, in the eighth inning sophomore Brady John came to the plate with the bases loaded and belted a three RBI triple to right center to make it an 11-7 game. BSC got one back in the ninth, but Rhodes shut the door and forced game three.
Senior Blake Glauben got the start, pitching 5.2 innings and allowing four earned runs to go with three strikeouts. Junior Will Vance got the win, pitching 2.1 innings, allowing only one run on one hit. Freshman Alex Garrett closed the game out, pitching an inning in the final frame to earn the save.
Olive finished 3-for-5 with a double, two RBIs, and runs scored. Notestine and sophomore Jacob Telli each had two hits with Notestine driving in three and Telli scoring three runs. John was 2-for-2 with a triple and three RBIs.
In the second game, the Lynx got an unbelievable performance from Bosma, pitching a complete game to get the win, allowing three runs on 10 hits and striking out win to close out the Panthers.
BSC took a 1-0 lead in the second, but Rhodes responded with two runs in the third as freshman Paul Giacomazzi drove in a run on a RBI ground out while Notestine scored on a wild pitch for the 2-1 lead.
Neither team could get anything going until the seventh inning, where Notestine drove a run in on a sac fly while Giacomazzi doubled down the right field line, driving another run in, to move ahead 4-1.
BSC scored a run in the seventh and eighth innings, but Bosma put the Panthers down in order in the ninth for the win and the championship.
Giacomazzi went 3-for-4 with a double and two RBIs while Notestine was 2-for-4 with a RBI and run scored. Munson, Olive, and Jon all added hits as well in the contest.
The Lynx move to 25-19 overall and will move on to the NCAA Regionals for the third time in four years. They will more-than-likely head to the South Regional, where they could possibly see the Panthers again, as well as four other teams.