Kirby

MILLINGTON, Tenn. – Methodist opened the 2013 NCAA tournament with a 4-3 victory against the South Regionals top-seed Huntingdon Wednesday at USA Stadium in 10 innings.

The Monarchs (25-20) scored the first run of the game in the fourth inning when Steven Kirby scored on a sacrifice bunt by Tyler Younger. Kirby started the inning with a single, which was followed with a single by Brandon Thigpen. Both runners advanced on a wild pitch with Younger at the plate, but the Monarchs were only able to push the lone run across in the inning.

Huntingdon would take the lead with two runs in the bottom of the fifth. After back-to-back singles to start the inning by Grant Brown and Caleb Astin, Joseph Odom flied out to advance Brown to third base. With clean-up hitter Keegan Lambeth, Astin stole second base, putting two runners in scoring position with one out, allowing Lambeth to drive in both runners with a single up the middle.

The Hawks (30-10) would increase their lead to 3-1 in the sixth with three hits off of Methodist starter Michael Innman. With one out, Evan Agnew would double down the right field line before advancing to third on an infield single by Jordan Freeman. Seth Currie would then step up to drive in Agnew with a single through the right side. Innman would get out of the jam with fly outs by Brown and Astin.

Methodist, the No. 6 seed in the six-team regional, would tie the game in the top of the seventh with two more runs. Stephen Nalls and Travis Johnson – who pinch-hit for Roy Lanners – both earned walks off of Huntingdon starter Cory Belyeu to start the inning. The bases would become loaded on the next batter when Ronnie Hatfield laid down a sacrifice bunt but reach base on a fielder's choice. Alex Rodriguez would then ground into a double play, scoring Nalls and advancing Johnson to third. Belyeu then walked lead-off hitter Chris Power, which would be the last hitter Belyeu would face. Cody Molosky followed with a bunt single off of reliever Joseph Fincher to score Johnson to knot the game 3-3.

Belyeu finished the day pitching 6.2 innings, surrendering three runs on six hits, walking three batters and striking out one.

Innman pitched 7.0 innings on the mound, allowing three runs on nine hits and three walks while striking out three batters.

With the game tied 3-3 after nine, the Monarchs scored the go-ahead run in the top of the 10th frame. Power reached base with a walk before advancing to second base on a sacrifice bunt by Molosky. Kirby singled up the middle, putting runners on the corners for Thigpen, whose single off of Lawler through the right side of the infield would plate Power to give the Monarchs a 4-3 lead going into the bottom of the tenth inning.

Kirby finished the afternoon 3-for-5 with a run scored while Thigpen went 2-for-5 at the dish with an RBI for the Monarchs.

Brown and Astin each went 2-for-5 with a run scored while Agnew and Freeman were both 2-for-4 for the Hawks.

Josh Ayers (5-2), who relieved Innman in the eighth, pitched a perfect 10th inning to complete the upset for the Monarchs. Ayers pitched 3.0 innings, allowing no runs on just two hits and one walk while striking out three to earn the win.

Fincher (7-3) would suffer the loss for Huntingdon, who falls into the loser's bracket of the double-elimination tournament. Fincher pitched 2.2, allowing the lone run in the tenth frame on two hits and one walk with no strikeouts.