Wilson, N.C.—The North Greenville Crusaders scored a first round upset in the Conference Carolinas tournament Thursday afternoon when they cruised past the 2nd seeded Belmont Abbey Crusaders 8-3.
The 5th seeded Crusaders jumped out to an early 3 run in the first inning after Derek Fulmer’s 3 run homer. Markus Duckworth and Dylan Fulk led the inning off with back-to-back singles before Fulmer connected on his 8th homerun of the season. Fulmer was 3-4 on the day with a run scored and 3 RBI and a double.
Belmont Abbey’s Stephen Mullis put Abbey on the board in the 2nd inning with an RBI single with 1 out. The Crusaders would strand a runner to end the home half of the inning. Belmont would inch closer to NGU in the 5th. Justin Vasquez’s RBI single cut North Greenville’s lead to 3-2 with 3 innings left.
Senior Drew Provence, Ryan Woodring, and Allen Staton held the Belmont offense in check on Thursday. Provence, who got the start for NGU, pitched 5.1 solid innings giving up 3 runs on 6 hits, while striking out 6. Woodring, who is normall a starter for NGU, was brought in for his firs relief appearance of the season in the 6th inning. He pitched 2.2 scoreless innings and struck out 4. Staton closed the door on Abbey in the 9th with 1 strikeout.
The Crusaders of North Greenville extended their advantage in the top of the 6th inning with a 4 run outburst. The Crusaders loaded the bases to start the inning with the help of an Abbey error, an infield single from Adam Taylor, and a walk. Belmont picked up an out before Markus Duckworth added to the damage with an RBI single from Markus Duckworth that scored 2 runs. Conference Carolinas Freshman of the Year Allen Staton added to the damage with a single which also platted 2 runs. Belmont escaped the inning without any further harm, but not before NGU took a 7-2 advantage.
Abbey tried to battle back in the bottom half of the 6th. The Crusaders scored a run on 2 hits but stranded 2. North Greenville would go on to take the run back in the 7th inning on Taylor Hollifield’s run scoring single. NGU’s 1 run 7th would cap the scoring for both teams. Abbey would go on to leave 5 runners on base in the final 3 frames, including leaving the bases loaded in the 7th.
North Greenville’s offense showed up in force on Thursday as the Crusaders pounded out 14 hits including 3 extra base hits. Abbey mustered 9 hits but committed 2 errors. Allen Staton, Markus Duckworth and Taylor Hollifield were responsible for 6 of NGU’s 14 base knocks. Staton was 2-3 on the day with 2 RBI, While Duckworth and Hollfield both rounded out the offense with 2-5 days.
With the win the Crusaders secured themselves a spot in the winners bracket and a spot in 7pm game on Friday with King College. The Tornado took 3 games from NGU less than a month ago in Tigerville. The Tornado are the tournament’s #4 seed.