The Louisburg College Hurricanes concluded their 2018 campaign with a loss in the elimination game of the Region X Conference Tournament on Sunday in Lexington, South Carolina.
The Hurricanes dropped a 7-5 decision to Spartanburg Methodist College (SMC) after splitting two games on Saturday. The loss was their second of the double-elimination tournament and ends an excellent 2018 campaign.
As with Saturday's games, the Hurricanes were on the board early and scored two runs in the top half of the first inning. Josh Baker, who had five hits, including two home runs, and six RBIs in the first of two games on Saturday, continued his hot hitting for the Hurricanes and had three hits, including a home run, and drove in four runs for the Hurricanes.
The Pioneers (29-25) answered with one in the bottom of the first and scored six more over the next six innings to move to a 7-2 leading heading into the top of the seventh. Baker doubled in two runs and then stole home to score the third Louisburg run of the inning in the seventh to make the score 7-5, SMC.
That was all the scoring either team would do for the remainder of the game as SMC advanced to a second game on Sunday.
At the plate, Vinny Bailey earned his spot in the clean-up position by going 2-for-3, and Zacchaeus Rasberry, Darius Nobles, Sergio Burgos, Brian Kahn, and Aaron Beach all had base hits for Louisburg. On the mound, Kevin Westlake struck out six and worked the first five innings and took the loss for the Hurricanes. Ethan Meece came on and pitched three scoreless innings in relief of Westlake, walking one and striking out two.
Louisburg completes the 2018 season at 31-22. That includes a regular season record of 30-20, followed by a 1-2 mark in the Region X Tournament. The 31 wins outpaced last year's 26, and included a 15-8 mark at Frazier Field. A highlight of the season included a 10-day run (February 18 – February 28) in which the 'Canes rattled off eight consecutive victories.
The 2018 Hurricanes featured three home-run hitters in double digits as Rasberry (13), Baker (12), and Bailey (15) all had banner production seasons at the plate. The trio combined for 40 home runs, while in 2017 the top three home-runner hitters combined for 32.
A power surge in the Region X Tournament lifted Baker into the company of Rasberry and Bailey and also helped lift his batting average to a team-high .434. That clip was good, as of May 6, for 29th overall within the NJCAA ranks. Baker is a freshman and will return in 2018.
On the mound, Payton Rice was tops on the staff in wins with an 8-3 mark and also led the team in innings pitched with 60.1. Next in was Jason Parker with a 6-3 record and 58 innings worked. The two combined for 147 strikeouts and each sported a strikeouts-per-nine-innings rate above 11. Both pitchers are sophomore righthanders. Chase Webb turned in a perfect 4-0 record in his first season with the Hurricanes.
As a staff, Louisburg struck out 415 batters while yielding just 158 walks and as a unit struck out nearly ten batters (9.88) per nine innings pitched.