Poppleton, Pitching Lead Mustangs to First Victory over Battling Bishops, 4-3

Poppleton, Pitching Lead Mustangs to First Victory over Battling Bishops, 4-3

ROCKY MOUNT, N.C. - Stevenson baseball junior Brian Poppleton (Elmira, N.Y./Elmira Free Academy) went 2-for-4 with two RBIs, including the game-winner that drove home freshman Ian Eberly (Harrisonburg, Va./Broadway) in the sixth inning, giving the Mustangs a 4-3 come from behind victory over N.C. Wesleyan Wednesday afternoon at Bauer Field.

Today's victory was the first in the series for Stevenson (11-3) after going 0-6-1 all-time dating back to Mar. 19, 2003.  The three runs allowed is also the lowest offensive output in the series for N.C. Wesleyan (9-15) since defeating the Mustangs 3-2 on Mar. 17, 2011.  Overall, the Battling Bishops have outscored Stevenson 74-48 in the 10-year history between the teams.

The win also avenges last year's 10-10 tie that was called due to darkness after 12 innings and saw the Battling Bishops come back from five down in the bottom of the ninth to force extras.

In the first, senior Josh Morris (Gambrills, Md./Arundel) reached base on error, stole second, advanced to third on a wild pitch and was plated when junior Scott Merkel (Hampstead, Md./Calvert Hall) hit an RBI single to center to give Stevenson an early 1-0 lead.

The Mustangs are 4-0 this season when scoring in the first inning and 10-0 when scoring first overall.  Last season, Stevenson had first inning runs in 22 of their 44 games with a record of 10-11-1.

N.C. Wesleyan would answer with two runs in their half of the first on a two-out two-RBI double by Hayden Williams.

Poppleton knotted the score at two in the second on an RBI double to left center that scored senior Heath Johnson (New Castle, Del./Charter School of Wilmington) who reached on a error. 

The Battling Bishops would score for the final time in the third, taking the lead 3-2 thanks to a J.J. Rodriguez single that scored Jason Riley.

Freshman Alec Romanowski (Endwell, N.Y./Maine Endwell) picked up his second win going 6.0 innings, scattering eight hits and allowed his first unearned run of the season before giving way to freshman Trevor Fitzsimmons (Toms River, N.J./Toms River) who pitched three perfect innings to pick up the save.

The Mustangs return home Friday to host Commonwealth Conference preseason favorite and two-time defending regular season champion Alvernia at Park Field.

The Crusaders have made four consecutive appearances in the NCAA Division III Baseball Championships and reached the postseason in each of the last 13 seasons.  First pitch is slated for 3:30 p.m.