Lexington, Ky. – The Thomas More University Saints held off two late charges by the Transylvania baseball team on Friday night as the Saints held off the Pioneers 7-6 in the opening game of the "Battle of the Bluegrass" series at Whitaker Bank Ballpark.
Playing under the bright lights of Whitaker Bank Ballpark, the minor league home of the Single-A Lexington Legends baseball team down the street from the Transylvania campus, the Pioneers and Saints combined for 25 hits on Friday. Thomas More built a 5-3 lead after the first two and a half innings that the Saints would lean upon for the rest of the night in holding off a threatening Pioneers squad.
Michael Blair led the Pioneers with a 3-for-4 night at the plate as the sophomore catcher belted his second home run of the season on Friday.
Each team traded three runs apiece in the opening inning as Thomas More led off the game with three extra-base hits against Transy starter Jake Schmidt. The Pioneers evened up the score at 3-all in the bottom of the first as Riley Willbur led off with a double and Devyn Wilson-Cowan got aboard via an error by Thomas More.
Hudson Chastain hit in his 23rd consecutive game and 16th to begin the season as he drove in Willbur for Transylvania's first run. Jason Pastoor blasted a double into right field to score two more to reset the ballgame.
Schmidt flummoxed the Saints in the second inning as he made all three of his outs via strikeout but the Saints retired the sophomore with two outs in the top of the third after retaking a lead at 5-3.
The Pioneers nearly tied up the game identically in the bottom of the third as Wade Lopiccolo scored Chastain on a double, but Blair overran third base as the play continued and was caught between third and home for the second out. The inning came to a sudden close with Thomas More clinging to a 5-4 advantage.
The Saints increased their cushion in the top of the fifth with another two-run output to stretch the lead to 7-4 before the Pioneers began marching back at the visitors in the bottom of the sixth.
Blair started the potential comeback with a lead-off homer to start the sixth, making Thomas More's lead 7-5. Transylvania had yet another chance in the bottom of the eighth as the Pioneers put two runners aboard, but the Saints converted an inning-ending double play to leave two runners stranded.
Transylvania made one final charge in the bottom of the ninth as Isaac Taylor doubled into the outfield and Nick Nelson followed with a double to score Taylor and cut Thomas More's lead down to a single run. The Saints remained composed and recorded two final outs on a strikeout and a popup in foul territory to hold on to victory.
Chastain joined Blair with a multi-hit game, going 2-for-4 with an RBI. The Pioneers produced five doubles on Friday but Thomas More outhit the Pioneers 15-10 to help its cause. Schmidt collected the loss for the Pioneers while registering a season-high six strikeouts. Jared Leuthart matched Schmidt in the strikeouts department with a season-high six of his own while the Pioneers pitching combined for 14 K's on the night, which serves as a season-high.
The Pioneers dropped to 6-10 while the Saints moved to 6-8 on the season.
The Pioneers will enter a chance for instant redemption against Thomas More with a Saturday doubleheader against the Saints at Whitaker Bank Ballpark. First pitch for the doubleheader is scheduled for 1:00 p.m.
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