AIKEN, SC -- The Pacers of the University of South Carolina Aiken used a two-run rally in the bottom of the sixth inning to break a scoreless ballgame and defeat the Railsplitters, 2-0, in the finale of a three-game set in Aiken, South Carolina on Sunday afternoon. Lincoln Memorial University (0-3) dropped their third-straight decision to open the 2013 campaign, while USC Aiken (3-0) capped the three-game sweep over the Railsplitters with the victory.
Lincoln Memorial starter Austin Johnson was solid in his first start a year removed from missing nearly the entire 2012 season due to injury. Johnson went toe-to-toe with Pacer starter Wyatt Brown, tossing five and a third innings strong allowing only five hits and two earned runs while striking out six batters.
The Railsplitters and Pacers played out a scoreless ballgame through five innings, as Johnson and Brown combined to limit the two offenses to only nine hits over that span. The Pacers, however, would break the contest open in the bottom of the sixth, as Ben Donath and Ryan Metzler were issued one-out walks in consecutive at-bats to put two runners on. JJ Loker was brought on to pitch hit and came through with an RBI single to center field to plate Donath. A balk during the next at-bat moved the runners to second and third, and a two-out wild pitch by the Railsplitters brought home Metzler to make it a 2-0 game in favor of USC Aiken.
Lincoln Memorial opened the top of the seventh with back-to-back singles by Nick Morabito and Colin Buckner, however, reliever Jake Padgett struck out the next three LMU batters to stifle that rally. Nick Pressley sparked another potential rally for the Railsplitters in the top of the eighth with a leadoff single but a strikeout and a double play shutdown the Railsplitters' scoring attempt to keep the game at 2-0 in favor of the Pacers.
The final inning saw the Railsplitters find themselves with yet another attempt to rally back into the game, as Josh Coker walked and Nick Morabito was hit by a pitch to put runners on first and second with no outs. However, the Pacers snuffed out that rally with a ground out and two-consecutive strikeouts to cap the game.
Austin Johnson was saddled with the loss after being credited with allowing the two runs in the bottom half of the sixth. Freshman Dillon Swaggerty came on to complete the game, tossing two and two-thirds innings in relief, allowing only two hits and no earned runs.
The Pacers used five pitchers en route to garnering the victory. Reliever Taylor Peed earned the victory with an inning in of action, allowing no runs and no hits. Taylor Grover picked up the save with an unblemished ninth frame.
The Railsplitters matched the offensive output of USC Aiken with seven hits but they were fanned 14 times out of their 31 plate appearances. The top four of Cody Baker, Nick Pressley, Curt Fuqua and Andre Rodriguez each recorded a hit in the game, while Josh Coker reached base safely two times with walks.
Lincoln Memorial will look to get back on track this week with a trip to Orangeburg, South Carolina to take on Claflin in a one-game nonconference showdown. That game is slated to start at 3 pm.