COLUMBUS, Ga. - Faulkner built a nation-best 21-game win streak due in large part to its solid bullpen and sparkling defense, which on numerous times over the past month and a half came through in tough spots to keep the string alive. Such was not the case here Friday afternoon however, as No. 20 Shorter scored five unearned runs in the eighth inning and held on for a wild 12-9 victory in the second round of the Southern States Athletic Conference baseball tournament at Golden Park.
The loss sends Faulkner into the loser's bracket, where it will face Auburn Montgomery Saturday morning at 9 in the double elimination event.
The third-ranked Eagles (45-10) had just scored six runs in the seventh to grab a 9-7 lead when the Hawks erupted, taking advantage of an inning-extending miscue to regain control and send Faulkner to its first loss in 43 days.
After a Craig Massey
error helped the Hawks load the bases with two outs, Faulkner relievers Adam Porter and Zach Sterling
issued back-to-back, run-scoring walks to tie the game at 9. A Sterling wild pitch plated the go ahead run for Shorter, which pushed their lead to three on a Mike Miranda two-run single moments later.
Faulkner left the bases loaded in the eighth and, in the ninth with a runner on and one out, John Gunnels
grounded into a double play to end the game.
"The ball bounced our way for 21 straight games, and it just didn't today," Faulkner head coach Patrick McCarthy
said. "I'm interested to see how our guys bounce back. It's been a long time since we've been in this position, and I believe our team will be up to the challenge it will face tomorrow. We'll certainly find out."
After Brook Boudreaux
's leadoff triple in the bottom of the first led to a 1-0 Eagles' lead, the Hawks quickly took control in the top of the second inning. Mike Miranda singled to open the frame and Kendall Lacey followed with a four-pitch walk. After Jordan Hollis sacrificed the runners to second and third, Dadynoel Lorenzo's infield single drove in a run to tie the game at 1.
The inning broke open for Shorter when Cal Hardie's grounder to Brennan Olive
at third was thrown away, allowing two more runs to score. Hardie, who advanced to third on the error, then scored on a infield groundout to push the Hawks' lead to 4-1.
Massey and Olive opened the bottom of the sixth with base hits, and two Shorter errors later in the inning allowed the Eagles to score twice and pull within 4-3.
The Hawks answered right back, chasing Faulkner starter Will Dismukes
by loading the bases with only one out. Blake McCullers greeted Eagle reliever Casey Wilson
with a two-run single to push the lead back to 6-3, and a Wilson wild pitch resulted in another Hawk run and a 7-3 advantage.
Faulkner's six-run seventh was highlighted by Zak Colby
's three-run double, and a pair of bases-loaded walks issued by Shorter relievers.
, the third of five Faulkner pitchers, took the loss. Boudreaux, Massey, Olive and Colby all had two hits for the Eagles, who finished with 10 as a team. Only four of Shorter's 12 runs in the game were earned.