Knights Hold Off Late Rallies from Apprentice

Written by Matthew McKinney

BUENA VISTA, Va.—The Southern Virginia University baseball team swept its home doubleheader from USCAA-rival The Apprentice School on Saturday holding off late rallies from the Shipbuilders in both games to win 8-4 and 8-5 respectively.

Southern Virginia (15-16) right fielder Brandon Alexander (Oakley, Calif.) had a monster Game One against Apprentice (22-14) going 3-for-3 from the plate, including two homeruns pushing his team-leading total to 10 for the season—only one homerun shy of the Knights' single-season record.

Alexander's second homerun—a two-run shot in the bottom of the fifth—gave Southern Virginia an 8-2 lead as the sophomore finished Saturday's opening game with team-high's in both runs (3) and RBI (5), while extending his season-long hitting streak to 13 games. 

Sadly, Alexander's streak ended during the day's second game when the sophomore failed to record a hit. 

The Knights led throughout Game One after going up 1-0 in the bottom of the first when starting pitcher Mitch Mantle (St. George, Utah) drove in Alexander on a fielder's choice. Mantle would then steal two bases before coming home on a throwing error by the Builder's catcher Zachary Harding making it 2-0 in favor of Southern Virginia.

Mantle leads all Knights with 18 stolen bases on the year.

Harding would make up for his error with two-run homerun in the top of the fourth giving Apprentice its first runs of the game making it 5-2 after four-and-a-half innings.

Southern Virginia answered back in the bottom of the fifth when third baseman Tyler Cox (Forest, Miss.) came through with his fourth homerun of the year—a solo shot that preceded Alexander's two-run blast, which capped a three-run inning for the Knights to put them up 8-2.

Cox also went a perfect 3-for-3 in Game One adding a single and double to his solo homerun.

Still trailing 8-2 during their final at bat in the bottom of the seventh, Apprentice strung together three two-out hits to score two runs and pull within four (8-4) of the Knights.

With the tying run waiting on deck for Apprentice, Mantle (4-3) forced the Builder's right fielder Andrew Hooper to fly out to left field as the sophomore righty earned his fourth win of the season in the complete game effort. 

Builder's starting pitcher Chris Perry (4-3) took the loss after pitching 4.2 innings, giving up eight earned runs, and striking out one.

In Game Two, Southern Virginia was powered by three-RBI performances from both Trager Hintze (St. George, Utah) and Mitch Stevenson (Muskogee, Okla.).

Game Two began much like Game One as Southern Virginia once again jumped out to a two-run lead in the bottom of the first on an RBI double from Andrew Snider (Lancaster, Calif.) and RBI single from Hintze.

Hintze's bat stayed hot in the second inning when he nailed a two-run homerun that capped a five-run inning giving Southern Virginia a 7-0 lead.

Apprentice scored its first run of Game Two in the third third when Harding hit his second homerun of the day—a solo job to left field making it 7-1. 

Southern Virginia added one more run in the fifth when Stevenson, who left his usual shortstop position to pitch for the Knights in Game Two, drove in an RBI single up the middle.

Still trailing 8-1 in the sixth, Apprentice came roaring back as the Builders finally got to Stevenson scoring four runs in the inning to cut their deficit to three (8-5).

Jordan Stailey (Silver City, N.M.) relieved Stevenson during the rally and got the Knights out of a jam with a strike out and a fly out.

Stailey continued to fight out of another tough situation in the seventh as he twice faced the tying run before finally getting the game's final out—a deep fly ball to the left-field warning track.

Stevenson (3-0) earned the win for Southern Virginia pitching 5.1 innings, while allowing five runs—four earned—and striking out one. Stailey threw a scoreless 1.2 innings in relief, striking out two and giving up one hit.

Daniel Lutz (3-4) took the loss for Apprentice giving up seven runs in only 1.1 innings. Sam Massie did an excellent job in relief for the Builders throwing 3.1 innings and giving up one earned run, while striking out seven batters to keep the Builders in the game.

The Knights look to make it six straight wins when they play at Washington and Lee University on Monday, April 16 at 3 p.m. EST. 

Southern Virginia has lost both of its previous games at Washington and Lee this season.