BURLINGTON, N.C. – No. 12/18 Shenandoah University opened up its final USA South Conference Baseball Tournament Thursday afternoon with a 5-3 victory over N.C. Wesleyan.
The Hornets (24-8) advance to take on sixth-seeded Averett on Friday morning at 10 a.m. with the triumph over the Bishops (15-24-1).
N.C. Wesleyan falls into an elimination game against third-seeded Greensboro. That game will be played Friday morning at Elon University beginning at 9 a.m.
Shenandoah wasted little time in jumping on NCWC starter Brandon Roberts (4-4) as leadoff hitter Joey Donofrio deposited Roberts' first offering over the right field fence for his team leading eighth dinger of the spring.
The home run was one of three that the Hornets hit on the day – Jake Pendergraft led off the fourth to the deepest part of the park in left center before freshman Corbin Lucas had a solo shot to start off the eighth.
Pendergraft's HR, his fifth of the season, gave the Hornets the lead for good.
SU needed Pendergraft's dinger as the Bishops had one run in the second and one in third, the latter a Hayden Williams solo HR off the rightfield foul pole.
In the second, Pat Laffin, who had a game-high three hits, had a leadoff double to center, was balked to third and scored on a wild pitch.
Junior Nick McMahon (6-0), making his first start against a conference opponent for the victors, gave up three runs on five hits in 8.0 innings before turning it over to freshman Matt Riegler after giving up a leadoff double in the ninth.
McMahon struck out three and walked three while retiring nine in a row from the third through sixth innings.
Riegler induced two groundouts before striking out Williams looking to end the game.
Tucker Brown led the SU offense with two hits in three at-bats with Lucas driving in a pair of runs.