The University of South Carolina Beaufort baseball team will have a shot at winning a critical Sun Conference series after the Sand Sharks split a doubleheader with visiting Southeastern (Fla.) on Friday at Richard Gray Sports Complex in Hardeeville.
Senior Stephen Richards pitched six scoreless innings to lead the Sand Sharks to a 4-1 win in the opener, and USCB wiped out a five-run deficit before bowing 10-7 in the second game to set up Saturday's rubber match.
Richards (1-0) was outstanding in his first start of the season, allowing only four hits and two walks while striking out two in six scoreless frames. Junior Delatorre pitched the final three innings, allowing one run on two hits and striking out five for his first save.
The Sand Sharks (13-14, 6-8 Sun) gave Richards an early lead on back-to-back two-out doubles from Ryan Walker and Korey Ahrens in the second inning, and they tacked on another in the third on Ashly Morris' RBI single. Ahrens added another RBI on a groundout in the fourth and JJ Crespo followed with an RBI single later in the inning to make it 4-0.
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The Fire (26-11, 10-4 Sun) finally broke through with a two-out rally in the ninth before Delatorre closed the door. Crespo, Morris and Walker each had two hits for USCB.
USCB fell in an early hole in the nightcap, as the Fire struck for three runs in the second and two in the third to stake starter Patrick Kinney to a 5-0 lead. The Sand Sharks began to chip away in the fourth, getting an RBI single from Jon Andrews and scoring a second run on a double play grounder. Blake Cilwick added a sacrifice fly an inning later and Brandon Joyce contributed an RBI single to cut it to 5-4.
The Sand Sharks scored three times in the sixth, tying it at 5 on Matt Kianka's RBI single and taking the lead when Cilwick reached on a run-scoring infield single and a wild throw allowed another run to score and make it 7-5.
The lead didn't last long, though, as three USCB errors allowed Southeastern to push across five unearned runs in the seventh and the Fire's bullpen shut down the Sand Sharks the rest of the way.
Crespo and Kianka each had two hits and Cilwick knocked in two runs to pace USCB's offense.
The series finale is set for noon Saturday.