COLUMBUS, Ga. - Damon Porter
, the last of four Faulkner pitchers, retired all five batters he faced, slamming the door on the third-ranked Eagles' 3-2 victory over cross-town rival Auburn Montgomery here Saturday in Southern States Athletic Conference Tournament eliimination game at Golden Park.
Faulkner (46-10) scored all three of its runs in the first inning, and starting pitcher Lyndon Eusea
and relievers Nathan Prokuski
, Cory Hamilton
and Porter combined to hold off the Warhawks, who threatened numerous times throughout but could never draw even. AUM (36-22) left 13 baserunners.
Faulkner, which had its 21-game winning streak snapped Friday evening by Shorter, bounced back against AUM, a fact that pleased head coach Patrick McCarthy
"We challenged our team, and the guys responded," McCarthy said. "I thought we showed a lot of heart. It's good to see we can recover after a tough day. Now we try to keep things going."
The Eagles play Southern Poly late Saturday night in another elimination game.
"We have a competitive team, and we certainly didn't want to go home today," McCarthy said. "We'll keep battling until they tell us to go home. At that time, we'll start preparing for the first round of the national tournament."
Faulkner jumped on top early, with Zak Colby
's single driving in Tucker Willard
with the game's first run. After Daniel Cayton
reached on an infield hit, Brennan Olive
doubled to deep right-center field to drive in a pair of runs, handing the Eagles an early 3-0 lead.
Rusty Todd's RBI single got AUM on the board in the second, and the Warhawks were poised to draw closer in the fourth, loading the bases on a hit and a pair of walks. Eusea, who threw 92 pitches in 3 2/3 innings, was relieved by Nathan Prokuski
, who got Bryan Young to ground out to second to end the threat.
The Warhawks inched closer in the top of the seventh when, after two walks and a base hit, Michael Dugan's squeeze bunt scored Branden Kelley to cut the Faulkner lead to 3-2.
Prokuski went 3 2/3 innings, tossing 56 pitches and getting out of a couple of jams before being relieved by Hamilton in the top of the eighth innning. Hamilton retired the first batter before Brian Wheeler doubled. McCarthy then called on Porter, who closed it out in impressive fashion. Prokuski earned the victory to improve to 3-0 on the season.