Matt Carter went deep once, twice, three times in Saturday’s double-header with Southern Wesleyan University, and the Eagles combined for 11 runs in the two games versus the NCAA Division 2 opponents from Conference Carolina. The Warriors of SWU, however, won both games by final scores of 7-3 and 15-8.
Carter, normally a starting pitcher, took over at second base in the third inning of Game 1 after Christian Draper left the game with arm soreness. Carter batted twice, and each time homered over the left-field fence. His first was right down the line and stayed just inside the pole. The second was a line drive to straight-away left that just cleared the top of the fence.
Carter was not finished. In Game 2, he took the 0-2 pitch of his third at bat well over left-field fence close to where he hit #2. The first two were solo shots, and the third was a three-run bomb that scored Jeremy Rivera and Dan Richard ahead of him. Earlier in the game, Carter beat out a bunt for a base hit.
Carter’s total line for the day reads 4-5, 3 HR, 3 R, 5 RBI, and 13 total bases.
The third home run capped a five-run Eagles rally in the bottom of the fifth. Rivera’s two-run double plated Kelvin George and A.J. Alexio, who each singled to open the inning. Richard followed with a single that advanced Rivera to third.
Draper’s arm problem is minor, and with nearly two weeks before the team’s next game, he should be ready to return when the Eagles host Truett-McConnell College on February 23.
Trinity opened the scoring in the bottom of the first when Rivera and Richard each drove in George (double) and Alexio (hit by pitch), respectively. Rivera’s ground ball put Trinity on the board, and Richard’s single made it 2-0. The Eagles got their final run in the sixth on a RBI fielder’s choice from Jon Shiver that scored Michael Cohick, who singled his way aboard.
Trinity’s first run of Game 1 scored when Rivera drove home Shiver with a first-inning single. Shiver walked, stole second, and hustled home on the hit that tied the game at 1-1. Rivera finished the day with two hits, four runs driven in, and a run scored in eight plate appearances. He hit the ball very hard in seven of those at bats.
The Eagles had many players contribute to the strong offense. In addition to what Carter and Rivera did, George and Alexio combined for four hits and four runs scored in Game 2 alone. George added another single in Game 1 to finish 3 for 7 on the day.
In Game 2, Richard was 2 for 2 with a run scored and a run driven at the plate, and he was just as tough on the mound. Normally a reliever, he pitched 3 1/3 innings in his first start of the season and allowed only one earned run on two hits, four walks, and two strikeouts.
Shiver stole three bases, scored one run, and drove in another in the two games combined and used his speed to spark Eagles rallies. David Hall was 2 for 6, and Jean Rivera also hit safely for Trinity.
Southern Wesleyan had a big inning in each game to help in their wins. The Warriors scored four times in the fourth inning of Game 1 and nine times in Game 2’s fifth. Quentin Bent led the Warriors with a total line of 4-6, 3 2B, 5 R, and 3 RBI. Julio Justo and Conner Ewing went back-to-back in the fifth inning of Game 2, and Ewing was 6 for 8 with 1 RBI and 5 runs scored overall. Andrew Fulgiano, Trey Matthews, Justo, and Bent all had multiple RBI for Southern Wesleyan.
When the Eagles resume play on February 23, they will begin a three-game series with one game on Friday night and a double-header on Saturday, February 24. The team will then participate in the annual Russ-Matt Showcase in Winter Haven, Florida, during which the Eagles will play seven games between March 2 and 10.
–Raymond Bureau, TBC