MILLINGTON, Tenn. -- In a back-and-forth, see-saw battle, the Alabama-Huntsville (27-20) baseball team dropped a heartbreaking 7-6 elimination game to Delta State (30-18) in the 2011 Gulf South Conference Tournament at USA Stadium in Millington, Tenn., on Saturday afternoon.
The Chargers got things going right out of the gate in the contest as junior center fielder Ty Chancelor (Decatur) ripped a double into the left center gap to start the game. Chancelor then scored on the next play after getting hung up between second and third in a run down before Delta State's Josh Branstetter threw the ball past the third baseman allowing Chancelor to come home.
DSU wasted no time answering right back as the Statesmen used a three-hit bottom of the frame to take a 3-1 lead. A second-inning leadoff double for Delta State led to another run as the Statesmen used a bunt and a sacrifice fly to take the three-run advantage.
Chancelor and junior first baseman Jon McKinney (Hackelburg) then got things going for the Chargers in the third as Chancelor ledoff the frame with a single, followed by a double down the right-field line by McKinney. A single to center field by junior shortstop Grant DeBruin (Boaz) made it a 4-2 contest bringing Chancelor across the dish before McKinney scored on an RBI single by junior right fielder Eric Deese (Tuscaloosa).
A heavy rain began to settle in during the third inning and at the end of the frame, the GSC crew decided to bring out the tarp to protect the playing surface. Starting at exactly 10:30 a.m., the rain delay lasted just over two hours with play resuming at 12:34 p.m.
The contest saw the fourth and fifth innings zoom past with only one runner reaching for either side. UAH then drew even in the top of the sixth when the Chargers used a pair of base knocks to manufacture a run when senior third baseman Jordan Parker (Hartselle) came home on a groundout by freshman Tyler Dorning (Athens).
The 5-5 tie did not last long however, as the Statesmen took advantage of a one-out single, a failed pickoff and a wild pitch to bring home a run and knot the game up.
The Chargers countered right back in the top of the seventh when DeBruin launched a two-run rocket into the left-field trees giving UAH a 6-5 advantage as Chancelor scored after reaching on a one-out single up the middle.
A pair of Charger defensive miscues in the ninth led to the comeback for the Statesmen as Delta State had a pair of runners reach via error and a pair of singles to push across the two runs for the win.
Charger senior Dustin Bryant (Fyffe) got the start on the hill going five and two-thirds innings in his tenth start of the season. The veteran allowed five earned runs and six hits, while walking three and fanning one before freshman southpaw reliever Drew Eiland (Auburn) came on. Eiland went three innings and allowed three hits and two unearned runs to take the loss.
With the loss, the Chargers finish the 2011 campaign 27-20 and bid farewell to seniors Dustin Bryant, Joe Dunlap, Ryan Frevert, Lance Gibson, Byne Gooden, Eric Parker, Jordan Parker, David Reiniger and Corey Whittle.