The University of North Alabama baseball team could not hold a 5-1 lead against Barry Sunday evening as the Buccaneers rallied for a 10-5 victory in the semi-final round of the NCAA Division II South Region Tournament in Pensacola, Fla. The Sunshine State Conference champions scored nine unanswered runs to advance to Monday's regional championship game against top-ranked West Florida. With the loss, UNA ends its season with a 37-14 record.
Barry got 13 hits off three different UNA pitchers and made key defensive plays to keep the Lions off the scoreboard over the final five innings. After the Bucs took their first lead of the game with a three-run seventh inning, UNA had base runners in the bottom of the final three frames but was unable to score.
For the third time in four games at the regional, UNA plated runs in the first inning. After drawing a lead-off walk in the bottom of the frame, Michael Schmidt reached third on a double by Blake Stroth. He scored on a wild pitch that advanced both runners to give the Lions the early lead. Jake Sloan then put UNA on top 2-0 with a sacrifice fly to right field, scoring Stroth from third.
Barry got on the board in the top of the fourth inning with an RBI-double by Chris Leon. Matt Petty scored on the play after drawing a two-out walk.
The Lions answered with three runs in the bottom of the inning. After Josh Cyr drew a lead-off walk, Sloan connected on a double to left centerfield to drive in the run and give UNA a 3-1 lead. JP LaMunyon then reached on an error and stole second to bring Dale Ricketts to the plate with two runners on base. The senior catcher doubled in both runs to give the Lions a four-run lead.
In the top of the fifth, Barry used back-to-back hits to put runners at second and third with one out. The Bucs got a sacrifice fly and a wild pitch to score both runners and make the score 5-3 and bring Casey Jones to the mound for UNA. Jones recorded a strikeout to end the inning and preserve the two-run lead for the Lions.
Barry plated three runs in the top of the seventh inning to take its first lead. The Buccaneers loaded the bases with one out before getting an RBI-single by Drew Dwelly and a sacrifice fly by James Young. The throw from the outfield on the play went into the UNA dugout, allowing Dean Green to score and give Barry a 6-5 lead.
UNA got a lead-off doubles in the seventh and eighth innings, but could not get them home. Nick McGregor was picked off at second after leading off the seventh inning and Cyr was stranded at third after doubling to start the eighth.
The Buccaneers added four more runs in the top of the ninth to put the game out of reach. After an RBI-single off Jones brought Joel Sessions in to pitch for UNA, Julio Ramos connected on the first pitch from the new pitcher for another RBI-single to put Barry ahead 8-5. The Bucs added two more runs off wild pitches to go on top 10-5.
Ricketts and Sloan each finished the game with two RBI. Sloan also went 2-for-3 at the plate. Jones took the loss on the mound to fall to 3-4 on the year. He allowed six runs off seven hits with two walks and five strikeouts.