Barons swept at Southwestern but get favorable first-round GACC opponent

On a weekend when everything had to go wrong for the Brewton-Parker College baseball team to fall out of the top five of the Georgia-Alabama-Carolina Conference standings, it did.

The Barons were swept in a pitching-dominated, three-game GACC series at Georgia Southwestern State University in Americus and then were relegated to sixth in the conference standings after Shorter College passed Brewton-Parker with a three-game sweep of Southern Wesleyan University.

The Hurricanes won Friday's single game 3-0 and Saturday's first contest 4-0 in a pair of games in which the Brewton-Parker pitchers threw complete games.

In the series finale Saturday, Southwestern withstood the Barons' six-run, game-tying rally in the top of the seventh inning to win in the bottom of the inning 8-7 and complete the sweep.

"Their pitching was unbelievable all weekend," said Barons coach Chad Parker, whose team had set up a battle for fourth against Southwestern - with both teams tied at 12-9 in the GACC entering the series - by sweeping Southern Polytechnic State University in a make-up conference doubleheader Wednesday.

"It just mattered who got the breaks, and every time we would get somebody on base, everything we hit went right at them. We couldn't catch a break."

The sweep was the first pulled against Brewton-Parker (24-16 overall, 12-12 GACC) in the conference this season, and to some might seem like it came at a bad time with the GACC postseason tournament starting Wednesday at Paul Eames Sports Complex in Albany.

"We hadn't had a weekend like that all year long, but I am kind of glad it happened now and not next weekend," said Parker, whose No. 6 seeded team faces No. 3 seeded Auburn University-Montgomery at 1 p.m. Wednesday.

The Barons won the series against the Senators, 2-1, on March 28-29. Another win over AUM and Brewton-Parker would play either Faulkner University (Ala.) or Southern Poly on Thursday at 4 p.m., with a loss putting the Barons in Thursday's 10 a.m. game against the Faulkner-Southern Poly loser.

In Friday's game, freshman left-hander Josh Dutto allowed the Hurricanes just one hit but it was for two runs with two outs in the third inning, and a sacrifice RBI in the eighth, to take the loss.

Dutto (5-2) walked four and had two wild pitches with one strikeout.

More than the loss on the scoreboard, however, the Barons lost sophomore center fielder Johnny King to a hip pointer injury for the weekend after he and sophomore Jonathan Davis collided in the outfield in the seventh inning. Parker said King was questionable for the GACC tournament.

Sophomore left-hander Trae Wiggins battled Southwestern in Saturday's first game and allowed five hits with six strikeouts and four walks, but again Southwestern provided enough offense while Brewton-Parker was blanked again.

Sophomore Chris Brown had two of the Barons' five hits.

In the series finale, Brewton-Parker finally broke through on the scoreboard in the second inning but trailed 7-1 after six innings. However, behind six pinch hitters, the Barons rallied and tied the game on Justin Dover's three-run home run - his second of his freshman season.

Sophomore right-hander Ashley Hooks - the three-hit winner in Wednesday's first game against Southern Poly - was unable to stop the Hurricanes (34-16, 15-9 after the series) in the bottom of the seventh by allowing two hits, the second after the leadoff hitter advanced to third on a passed ball and a steal.

Hooks (3-3) pitched three-plus innings in relief of junior right-hander Brent Kennedy, who had allowed five runs (all earned) in the first three innings and scattered six hits with one strikeout and two walks over the first four innings. Hooks allowed seven hits and three runs (all earned) with three walks, two intentionally in the seventh inning, and no strikeouts.

"We have had a good year, I am happy with our record and the way we have played and have gone about playing every game," said Parker, whose team has improved from 17-34-1 overall and 8-16 in conference play last season. "I think we are going in the right direction of being a winning program again."