The season opener for the Oglethorpe baseball team Friday evening in Montgomery, Alabama, did not go the way they envisioned it against the Southwestern (Texas) Pirates. The Stormy Petrels led their former SCAC rivals 12-8 going into the bottom of the ninth at the Firehouse Classic, hosted by Huntingdon, but couldn't hold on in a 13-12 defeat.
The teams traded runs over the first couple innings, but Southwestern struck the first significant blow with a 2-run third. The Petrels responded, though, coming through with 4 runs in the fourth. Junior center fielder Jarvis Miller bombed a 3-run homer to give Oglethorpe the lead and senior third baseman Austin Ferlita followed with a solo shot, giving the Petrels back-to-back home runs and a 5-3 advantage. That held until the fifth, when the Pirates came back to tie the game at 5-5.
The Petrels spent the following two innings building their advantage back. They got consecutive singles from Miller and Ferlita in the sixth, and that was followed by a run-scoring hit from senior right fielder Brandon Fish to give them the lead back. In the seventh, junior first baseman Dee Kelly reached on an error and designated hitter Connor Crooke followed with a walk. Both runs scored on a Southwestern error later in the inning, giving Oglethorpe an 8-5 lead at the seventh-inning stretch. The Pirates again responded by tying the game up, though, making it 8-8 going to the eighth inning.
The Petrels added another go-ahead run in the eighth, though, on a solo home run from junior second baseman Matt Motz. Then, they pushed across three more runs in the ninth. Crooke walked, stole second, stole third, and scored on a throwing error. Then the Petrels got Miller, freshman shortstop Sam Held and junior left fielder Britton Araujo aboard, leading to a bases-loaded walk by Ferlita. Junior catcher Adrian Celata drove in Araujo with a hit, and the Petrels had a 4-run lead headed to the bottom of the ninth. A bases-clearing triple with one out proved to be the big hit for Southwestern, though, allowing them to tie the game. An RBI single followed two batters later, and the Pirates had their comeback win.
Junior right-hander Matt Davis got the start for Oglethorpe, allowing 5 runs on 8 hits over 5 innings. He did strike out five Pirates, though. Senior reliever Sam Traxler and freshman reliever Caleb Martin allowed 3 runs apiece, and senior right-hander Justin Thigpen entered the game with the bases loaded and nobody out in the ninth. He allowed 2 runs of his own on 3 hits, suffering the loss and a blown save in the process.
Ferlita and Motz both enjoyed 3-for-5 days at the plate, both hitting solo home runs on the afternoon. Motz added a double and a pair of runs scored, while Ferlita drove in a couple.
"I love the way the guys played tonight and the energy we brought to the field," said Oglethorpe head coach Dan Giordano. "We swung the bats great and played great defense, not committing an error in our season opener. We didn't make enough pitches tonight, but I know what kind of staff we have, and those guys will bounce right back tomorrow."
The Petrels will remain in Montgomery at the Firehouse Classic for the remainder of the weekend. They'll take on host side Huntingdon Saturday at 2:30 p.m. Eastern before finishing the weekend up against LaGrange Sunday at 5:30 p.m.