Faulkner wins first game of key series against AUM
Faulkner’s Jack Charleston kept Auburn Montgomery without a hit for the first 6 2/3 innings and allowed just one hit in seven scoreless innings, as the Eagles took the championship-deciding Southern States Athletic Conference series opener 8-1 Thursday at the AUM Baseball Complex.
Faulkner improved to 41-11 overall and 23-5 in the conference, while the Warhawks dropped to 35-15 overall and 24-4 in the SSAC. Patrick McCarthy’s Eagles must sweep Friday afternoon’s doubleheader to win their fourth straight SSAC title. One AUM victory gives it the title in Marty Lovrich’s first year at the helm of the program.
"We know (Friday) will be a grind, but we had to have this one to have a chance, and I could tell during batting practice that we were ready," McCarthy said. "Baseball is a crazy game, and tomorrow could be a totally different story. Both teams know the championship will be decided, and that makes for an exciting day.
"As far as Jack’s performance, it was just outstanding. He was in total command."
Charleston (7-1) kept the Warhawks in check in the outing, allowing just two walks and striking out 11 in the victory. The sophomore retired the first eight batters of the game, before Josh Thompson worked a full-count walk from the nine spot in the order. Kaleb Harris broke up the no-hit bid with a single over the second baseman in the seventh inning.
AUM plated its only run of the game in the fourth inning, when Darius Reese scored on a groundout by Conner Smith. Reese struck out on a ball in the dirt to lead off the inning, but Eagles’ catcher Robert Llera’s throw to first ended up in right field, allowing Reese to move to second on the throwing error. Matt Miller followed with a groundout to first, moving Reese up a base, before Smith plated him with a groundout to third base.
Faulkner took control of the contest early, pushing across single runs in each of the first three frames against AUM starter Seth Arroyo (3-4). Chris Madera led off the game with a double over the glove of Smith at third base and scored on a Llera groundout. Dario Polanco added a RBI double in the second inning to extend the lead, while Dennis Morton contributed a run-scoring single in the third.
The Eagles added three runs in the fifth inning, using three hits, three walks and a hit batsman to plate the runs. Polanco and Madera each picked up RBIs on bases-loaded walks, while Nick Cain chipped in a RBI single.
In the game, seven AUM pitchers combined for nine walks and three hit batters. Faulkner also recorded 11 hits. The Warhawks finished with only three hits, one each by Reese, Harris and Brandon Pooler.
Arroyo took the loss, allowing three runs on six hits in 2 2/3 innings. Chance Hicks tossed two frames, allowing a pair of runs, while David Carter record two outs and Spencer Youmans added 1 2/3 innings of relief. Chris Estes and Rock Rucker were bright spots for AUM, striking out the side in the eighth and ninth inning, respectively. Landon Curtis faced four batters, but did not record an out.
Cody Sos and Edgar Figueroa each had two hits for Faulkner, while Polanco and Cain had two RBIs apiece.
First pitch for Friday’s doubleheader is slated for 3 p.m. Between games, the Warhawks will recognize their 13 seniors - Reese, Thompson, Miller, Hicks, Youmans, Carter, Tremayne Hardin, Tyler Garner, Blake Barrow, Jacob Horton, Jacob Gibson, Kevin Franklin and Bryan Young.