Thomasville Times Enterprise

February 1, 2014

WHAT A WAY TO START!

Daniel Kramer
CNHI

THOMASVILLE — Thomas University got off to its best start in school history with back-to-back shutout wins in Saturday’s doubleheader against visiting Montreat.

It was the first time since 2008 that the Night Hawks notched consecutive shutout performances and consecutive complete game shutouts. Pitchers Kurt Gens and Ben Overman combined to throw 173 pitches in all 14 innings.

“It’s a good feeling when your number one and two on the mound doing exactly what we needed them to do,” Thomas coach Mike Lee said. “Hopefully that carries on the rest of the year.”

Gens notched seven strikeouts, four of which ended with no swing from the opposing batter, and Overman carried a no-hitter into the fourth inning.

The pitching duo relied on the strong run support from the Night Hawks bats, which churned out six runs in the first contest and five in the finale.

Left fielder Jeremy Crosby led the charge with the three RBIs and a run scored in both games. Lee said that Crosby catapulted the Night Hawks with a no-out, three-RBI double in the first inning of the opening contest, which gave Thomas its spark.

“Just coming in with the bases loaded and it being my first at-bat, it was really big,” said Crosby, who made his much-anticipated debut after eligiblity woes from his transfer. “It set the tempo I feel like in a way because right after that hit we come in and put on a few more. I feel like our offense will be our strong point, but then again, we have some great pitching gems. It all gels together.

Thomas persevered in the third with two RBIs from KC Mejia’s blooper to left field and Austin Corbitt’s ensuing line drive to center, which gave the Night Hawks a 6-0 lead they carried to the end.

Game two was tighter in the early stages, with Overman’s dominating performance early.

Crosby scored on a two-out error later that inning when Montreat shortstop Lance Gower juggled a routine pop fly. Crosby hustled home on the crack of the bat with Lee’s echo “Run it out” ringing from the dugout. Catcher Andrew Crane followed with a liner to right in the ensuing at-bat, which extended the lead to two.

Thomas capitalized on another Montreat error in the fifth when right fielder Terry Carson misjudged a dive an allowed the ball to reach the wall. Corbitt scored on the play and Brandon Singer reached third base, where he would score from on the ensuing sacrifice fly by Trey Griffin.

“To say they didn’t do a good job, that would be lying,” Montreat coach Michael Bender said of Thomas. “You want to be that coach that sits there and says: ‘We helped them a little bit.’ But I don’t think we would’ve won the games even if we got on the board.”

The Night Hawks poured on their fifth run in the sixth inning on the heels of a Chris Kitlas line drive to center. Overman came in to clean up and close the seventh inning with a strikeout.

“Ben in the second game, he struggled a little bit mechanically but he showed resiliency and was able to hold on,” Lee said.

The Night Hawks feel confident after a strong open to what they expect to be a fruitful season; one that will dish out 19 upperclassmen.

The two teams meet again today at Varnedoe Stadium at 1 p.m.

“We usually play a lot better on Sundays than we do on Saturdays,” Bender said.