LA MIRADA, Calif. --- It nearly slipped through their grasp, but after a great late-inning streak of runs, Biola picked up its third win in the last six games, and fourth win overall, on Wednesday afternoon.
Biola welcomed Bethesda to Eagles Diamond for an afternoon single-game meeting between the two squads.
It was another tough game to prepare for, as Biola's pitching staff is just about tapped out after a streak of six games in six days leads them up to three more games on Friday and Saturday.
Konanui Olson got the start for the Eagles, and got tagged by the Flames for six earned runs, and seven in total, over the course of 3.2 innings pitched. He doubled his total season innings count in his first career start on the mound.
It was a spot start for the sophomore out of Stockton, Calif., as Head Coach Jay Sullenger has used his first five starters over the course of the previous five games, and needed to save his top three for the weekend series at Arizona Christian.
So, as Sean McCarrell, a freshman second baseman, took the ball from Olson, the Eagles found themselves in a 7-0 hole with absolutely nothing going for them.
McCarrell saw his first action of the season in the first game of Biola's recent doubleheader against College of Idaho. He went one inning, surrendering one hit and no runs.
Sullenger was hoping for more of the same this afternoon, and what he got from McCarrell did not disappoint. The rookie went 3.1 innings pitched and completely doused the offensive attack of the Flames. He was tagged for one run, the Flames' eighth of the contest, but again only allowed one hit.
It was a clutch performance out of a player who entered the game with just three innings of high school pitching and one inning of college pitching under his belt.
"It is the end of a long stretch for us with a bunch of games in a row," said Sullenger. "McCarrell is a guy we've been working with and it was really nice for us to see him do a good job again today."
While McCarrell was neutralizing Bethesda, the bats finally came to life for the Eagles, as they picked up four runs in the fourth inning and three more over the fifth and sixth to bring the game within one.
It was at this point that Sullenger had to make another unorthodox pitching decision. He brought in the Eagles' leadoff hitter and everyday center fielder, Rob Groeschell, for his first innings of work on the mound.
He did good work on the mound to go one full inning without allowing runs. He looked especially solid in the eighth, and was the pitcher of record for Biola. His only blemish was allowing three runners on via a pair of walks and a hit batsman as his arm began to tire.
After his strong eighth inning, Biola found themselves in a fantastic spot as David McNeill stepped up with just one out and runners on second and third. He hit a looper to right field that fell between three Flames fielders and brought home Daniel Rasmussen to tie the game.
Biola took the lead after some sound base running and a passed ball brought home a run. An insure run was tacked on immediately after with an Andres Rodriguez single.
After the offensive explosion in the eighth, Groeschell found himself in trouble in the ninth, so Sullenger brought in Bryan Castelli to close the contest out. The Eagles' closer got three straight outs to pick up his second save of the season and give Biola the 10-8 win.
"I'm glad to see us stay in a ballgame where we fell behind by seven early," said Sullenger. "It was good to see the guys come back and was a testimony to these guys staying in the game."
Clutch hits and successful base running allowed Biola to move to 4-7 on the year and drop Bethesda to 3-10. The Eagles' had four stolen bases on the day and three extra-base hits.
They hit the road and continue their season immediately with a three-game series at Arizona Christian on Friday and Saturday.