BSB: Sand Sharks stun No. 11 Knights with walk-off HBP

It was looking bleak for USCB baseball after letting an early five-run lead slip away Tuesday, but Ted Falkner’s squad never quit. The Sand Sharks pulled off a dramatic three-run comeback to force extra innings before walking it off in the 11th to upset 11th-ranked Middle Georgia State 10-9 at Richard Gray Stadium. 

The victory marks USCB’s first win over a nationally-ranked opponent since an April 28, 2019, triumph over No.3 Georgia Gwinnett. 

The Sand Sharks impressed all day long at the plate, scoring one run in eight of the game’s 11 innings including a three-run fourth to race out to an early lead. Nick Milhan knocked in an RBI single to open the scoring in the first, and Leandy Castro recorded an infield single in the second to double the advantage. 

The Knights cut the margin in half in the fourth, but USCB responded right away with three of its own in the bottom half. Castro picked up his second run-scoring single of the ballgame, Kyran Russ roped an RBI triple to center field, and Alexander Humphery poked in a single to make it 5-1. 

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The Sand Sharks added another on a fielding error in the fifth, but Middle Georgia stormed all the way back in the sixth inning and scored eight runs to snatch away a 9-6 lead. USCB began to chip away in the late frames, scoring a run in the seventh on a Castro solo homer and another in the eighth on a Tim Wood single to trim the MGA advantage to just one. 

The Sand Sharks held down the Knights in the top half of the ninth to earn one last chance to tie it with a run or win the game with two. Down to their final out, Russ delivered in the big moment, crushing a double off the left-field wall to score Marino Sorbara and tie the game at 9, but Humphrey struck out on the ensuing at-bat to send the game to extra innings. 

USCB had a chance to end it in the bottom of the 10th after Milhan and TK Kennedy started the inning with singles, but the two runners were left on base. 

After Donovan Huneck worked a 1-2-3 top of the 11th, Castro started the bottom half by smoking a double down the left-field line. The senior moved to third with a wild pitch, and Middle Georgia walked the next two batters to load up the bases. Humphrey finished off the comeback for the Sand Sharks on a walk-off hit by pitch to complete a thrilling 10-9 victory over the nationally-ranked Knights. 

Castro put together a monster day at the plate, going 4-for-5 with a solo homer, double, and three RBIs while scoring the game-winning run. Milhan delivered a standout 4-for-6 performance with a double and an RBI, Russ was 3-for-5 and finished a home run shy of the cycle with a pair of RBIs, and Humphrey collected a pair of hits and RBIs including his last one to win the game. 

Huneck earned the win on the mound, shutting down the Knights down the stretch with three innings of scoreless ball and adding two strikeouts. 

USCB (13-12, 2-7) looks to carry the newfound momentum into a three-game Sun Conference series with visiting Warner this weekend, beginning with a doubleheader Friday.

By Wes Kerr

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