Concord Baseball Falls in Season-Opener at Armstrong, 5-4 - Beckley, Bluefield & Lewisburg News, Weather, Sports

Concord Baseball Falls in Season-Opener at Armstrong, 5-4

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The Concord University baseball team jumped out to a three-run lead over No. 29 Armstrong Atlantic State University, but were unable to hold off the Pirates, losing its season-opener 5-4 Friday afternoon at Pirate Field.

The Mountain Lions and Pirates both had 12 hits on the day. Concord put at least two runners on base in each of the first five innings, but finished the game just 3-for-15 with runners in scoring position.

Concord was led by junior first baseman Joey Miller, who went 2-for-5 with three RBI off of a pair of run-scoring doubles in his first game as a Mountain Lion.

Sophomore second baseman Jerrod Groves, senior outfielder Bret Blevins and freshman outfielder Joe Camp all registered two-hit games as well for Concord with Blevins and Camp both recording one extra-base hit.

Senior pitcher Ryan Weatherholtz threw five strong innings, surrendering two runs off of six hits with three strikeouts. Junior pitcher Tyler Coyle took the loss after giving up two runs in 0.2 innings. Junior pitcher Tim Leather finished out the game for Concord, going 2.1 innings and allowing one run and three hits while striking out three AASU batters.

Senior outfielder Jacob Mays got the Mountain Lions off to a quick start with a leadoff-single to start the season. Groves followed Mays' hit with one of his own to put runners on first and third with no outs. Mays would score when Miller laced a double to left field, giving Concord an early 1-0 lead.

A solo home run by the Pirates' Chase Butler in the bottom of the first made it a 1-1 game, but Concord's offense quickly took a 3-1 lead in the third inning when Miller scorched another double into the gap to score Groves and Blevins; the duo had reached base earlier in the inning with a single and double back-to-back.

Concord plated another run in the fourth inning to take a commanding 4-1 lead when senior Devin Smith scored from third base after the throw home from Armstrong Atlantic's Will Thomas sailed wide.

Weatherholtz shook off the Pirates' first-inning home run to shutout Armstrong Atlantic over the following four innings to take a three-run Mountain Lion lead into the sixth inning.

However, Armstrong Atlantic battled back to tie the game for a second time with a three-run showing in the bottom of the sixth inning. The Pirates knocked Weatherholtz out of the game with a leadoff double to begin the inning. Coyle took over for Weatherholtz and was on the mound for all three AAU runs, leaving the game after 0.2 innings. Tim Leather came on for Coyle to get Concord out of a bases-loaded two-out jam and keep the contest knotted at 4-4.

Armstrong Atlantic took its first lead of the game in the seventh inning when it loaded the bases with one out and Thomas hit a ground ball that CU nearly turned into a double play, but Thomas beat the throw to first and RJ Dennard scored from third.

Mays led the ninth inning off with a walk before advancing to second when freshman Joe Monica got down a successful sacrifice bunt. However, Mays would be stranded at second after consecutive fly outs by Blevins and Miller to end the game.

Dennard was 3-for-4 with two runs scored and two doubles for Armstrong Atlantic. Chris Base gave up no runs and just one hit in 4.2 innings of relief work to earn the victory.

Concord and Armstrong Atlantic will continue their three-game series 1:00 p.m. Saturday.