Transylvania baseball erases nine-run deficit to beat Alma in the bottom of the ninth

Willbur hitting

Lexington, Ky. – Hudson Chastain's walk-off single in the bottom of the ninth inning completed a thrilling 15-14 comeback win by the Transylvania baseball team against the Alma College Fighting Scots on Sunday evening at Marquard Field.

Chastain lined a shot down the right field line with the bases loaded to score the tying and go-ahead run, completing an improbable bottom of the ninth inning which the Pioneers began with a 14-9 deficit.

The instant classic witnessed the Pioneers storm back from an 11-2 hole in the seventh inning as they scored 13 runs over the final three innings.

By completing the massive comeback, the Pioneers swept the two-game weekend series against the Scots to even their record to 4-4 on the season while Alma dropped to 3-5. Caleb Neal picked up the win for the Pioneers as the sixth and final pitcher on the mound for the day. Riley Willbur led the Pioneer bats in the lead-off position with career-highs in hits and RBI, carving out a 5-for-6 day at the plate, six RBI, and two stolen bases.

Alma began the day gradually building its lead on a two-run homer in the second inning against Transy starter Colton Hartig, who went the first four innings with four strikeouts, three walks, and three earned runs allowed.

The Pioneers tied up the game in the bottom of the third inning on a pair of runs: Willbur delivered his second hit of the day to score Wade Lopiccolo for the first run of the inning and then stole second base. Willbur later took advantage of an infield error to jet home for a 2-2 score.  

Alma went back ahead in the fourth inning off an RBI single and a run scored via a wild pitch to take a 4-2 advantage. The Scots solidified a comfortable lead in the sixth inning on a lead-off home run from Max Trucks to spur a five-run output. Alma followed with another two-run single in the following inning to amass an 11-2 lead against the Pioneers.

Transylvania began whittling away at the deficit in the bottom of the seventh inning when pinch hitter Nick Nelson led off with a double. While the next two Pioneer batters were retired, Willbur answered the bell again with an infield single to score Nelson, cutting Alma's lead to 11-3.

Michael Blair followed with a two-out single to the right side to put two runners aboard, and Hudson Chastain hit an infield single which was mishandled by the Alma shortstop, allowing Blair and Willbur to charge home and slice the Alma advantage to 11-5. Austin Butts provided the next clutch moment with an RBI base hit to score Chastain, finishing off a four-run inning for the Pioneers.

Alma, however, gained more breathing room in the top of the eighth inning by manufacturing three more runs before Evan Burnett provided the final two outs of the frame.

Trailing Alma 14-6 entering the bottom of the eighth inning, Transylvania's offense remained potent. Isaac Taylor led off with a bunt attempt that Alma's fielders were unable to cleanly handle while another Pioneer pinch hitter provided a spark as Jason Pastoor moved Taylor to second with a base hit. Wade Lopiccolo drew a walk to load the bases, paving the way for Willbur's fourth hit of the game.

Willbur smacked a triple into the right-field alley, clearing the bases to bring the Pioneers within striking distance at 14-9, helping the Pioneers take back the three runs conceded at the top of the frame.

Neal made quick work of the side in the top of the ninth inning, striking out Alma's lead-off batter before inducing Jordan Anstandig into a double play to set the stage for an unforgettable comeback.

Austin Butts set out to erase the 14-9 shadow by Alma, leading off the bottom of the ninth with a walk. Devyn Wilson-Cowan delivered his first hit of the day to put two runners on, and Taylor came through with his second hit of the contest, a base hit into left field to load the bases.

Another Transylvania pinch hitter provided a dramatic moment as Andrew Winningham's quickly falling pop-up in shallow right field dropped through the glove of Alma's second baseman for the Scots' fifth and final error of the game, scoring both Wilson-Cowan and Butts to slice Alma's lead to 14-11.

Henry Molloy drew a walk to once again load the bases, forcing Alma to settle for a pitching change with still no outs in the ninth.

The Scots earned their first out of the inning when a pop-up by Lopiccolo was caught in foul territory, but the Pioneers' comeback bid continued. Willbur delivered in the clutch on an RBI base hit to left centerfield to score Taylor for a 14-12 Alma lead. Transylvania wrested momentum their way as Blair drew a bases-loaded walk on the next at-bat to make the score 14-13.

Chastain put a capper on the night with his second hit of the game and the Pioneers' 17th Sunday hit, driving in both Willbur and Molloy to finish off the comeback.

The Pioneers outhit Alma, 17 to 12 while not committing an error in the game. Chastain, Butts, Taylor, and Lopiccolo all joined Willbur with multi-hit games.

Transylvania's battery joined in for 10 combined strikeouts on the day.

The Pioneers now look ahead to a Tuesday evening game against their regional arch-rival, the Centre College Colonels. Transylvania will visit Centre at 6:00 p.m. at Gary Wright Field.

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