PBC Tournament: Flagler Advances Past USC Aiken 8-4

Flagler's Igor Baez
Flagler's Igor Baez

FLORENCE, SC – The Flagler Saints won their second consecutive elimination game to remain alive at the PBC Baseball Tournament in Florence, S.C., with an 8-4 win over USC Aiken on Friday morning.  With the win, the Saints (30-23) move on and will face UNC Pembroke on Friday evening at 5:00 pm.  USC Aiken (39-13) sees their tournament come to a close, but are all but assured of a spot in next week's NCAA Tournament.

The Pacers struck first, getting a solo home run from Zach Moon in the bottom of the second inning.  Moon blasted his 12th round-tripper of the season to the opposite field, carrying 361 feet for a 1-0 lead.

Flagler answered with four runs in the top of the third, generated largely with USCA's help.  Pacer starter Christian Aragon (L, 4-2) issued three straight one-out walks to load the bases.  Flagler's Dylan Jones then brought in the first run with a sacrifice fly, followed by an RBI single from Cole Ondrejka.  Igor Baez and Jason Moore also had RBI hits for a 4-1 lead.

USC Aiken answered with a run in the bottom of the third as Luke Westerberg doubled and later scored on an RBI single by Nile Goings.

Flagler came back with three more runs in the fourth, fueled again by walks to the first two batters.  That was enough to chase Aragon, but with runners on second and third Ethan Crout blasted a line drive off the glove of the Pacer third baseman into left field, scoring both.  Two more walks loaded the bases again and Baez picked up an RBI with a bases-loaded walk to score the third run of the inning.

Flagler added another run on a Crout RBI single in the fifth.  USC Aiken tried to rally with two runs in the eighth, but were retired when Flagler turned a tough 6-4-3 double play to end the inning.

Dante Pagano (W, 1-0) got the win for Flagler with 2.1 innings of work, but left the game in the middle of an at-bat with an apparent arm injury.  Luke Cooksey pitched two innings of relief and Ethan Jones (S, 1) got the save with 1.2 innings of one-hit relief.  Flagler pitchers issued no walks in the game, compared to eight for USC Aiken.

Ondrejka went 3-for-4 with an RBI while Crout was 2-for-4 with three RBIs to lead the Saints.  Moore and Baez also collected two hits each; Moore's double was the only extra-base hit of Flagler's 12.

Westerberg finished 3-for-5 for the Pacers with a run scored while Goings was 2-for-4 with an RBI.  Moon was 2-for-4 with two RBIs and two runs scored.