HARDEEVILLE -- The University of South Carolina Beaufort baseball team held off a late comeback from No. 16 St. Thomas in the first game and then saw its own rally fall short in the nightcap as the teams split a doubleheader Saturday at Richard Gray Sports Complex.
The Sand Sharks saw most of an eight-run lead evaporate before holding on for a 13-11 win in the opener and nearly clawed out of an early hole before falling 9-7 in the second game, as the Bobcats claimed two of three in the Sun Conference series.
USCB (16-18, 7-11 TSC) jumped on starter Danny Sanchez early in the first game, taking an 8-0 lead after three innings. The Sand Sharks lost command of the strike zone as St. Thomas scored six in the fourth, but USCB tacked on a run in the fifth and four in the seventh to regain control.
Dayron Gomez's pinch-hit grand slam in the ninth pulled the Bobcats within two, but they couldn't complete the comeback.
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Ashly Morris went 4 for 5 with an RBI to lead the way as USCB pounded a season-high 19 hits. Blake Cilwick was 3 for 6 with four RBIs and three runs scored, and J.J. Crespo went 3 for 5 with two RBIs and scored three times.
Kyle McCullough (4-1) earned the win with 3 1-3 innings of scoreless relief. He walked two but did not allow a hit.
The Bobcats (29-12, 15-5) jumped out to a 6-0 lead after two innings in the finale before USCB began chipping away. The Sand Sharks scored single runs in the third and fourth before three unearned runs for St. Thomas squelched the momentum in the top of the fifth.
A four-run outburst in the bottom of the inning gave the Sand Sharks hope, and USCB added an unearned run in the eighth to get within two. The Sand Sharks moved two men into scoring position with one out against closer Ashley Bulluck in the ninth, but Bulluck bounced back to record consecutive strikeouts and end the threat.
Ryan Doeppel went 3 for 4 with three RBIs and Cilwick was 3 for 4 with an RBI and two runs scored in the finale. Bryce Hines (0-2) took the loss, and three relievers combined to go 7 2/3 innings without allowing an earned run.
The Sand Sharks travel to Savannah State for a non-conference game at 5 p.m. Tuesday before hitting the road for a three-game Sun Conference series at Northwood next weekend.