Stewart Homers in Season Opener against No. 4 South Carolina
COLUMBIA, S.C. – UNCG baseball opened the 2017 season in front of a sellout crowd at South Carolina’s Founders Park on Friday evening. The Spartans dropped the contest, 7-1 to the No. 4 South Carolina Gamecocks. Senior outfielder Dillon Stewart (Dunn, N.C./Brunswick CC) hit UNCG’s first home run of the season in the contest. The contest marked the 49th sellout of South Carolina’s Founders Park, with 8.242 fans in attendance.
“Their starting pitcher (Clarke Schmidt) did a great job, that’s why he is what he is.” Head coach Link Jarrett said, “(Jack) Maynard matched him, they (South Carolina) were not really squaring the ball up off of him. We were a little sloppy in the first inning, and we gave them some free bases with some balls that got away from our catcher. To be down two, to that caliber of a pitching staff can kind of suck the wind out of your sails. I thought we played sharp defensively, but offensively we didn’t give ourselves a lot of opportunities to do damage. I credit the South Carolina pitchers for that. Going from Schmidt to Bowers, that was a tricky transition offensively, and they both pitched well.”
“Tripp (Shelton) had a solid performance, did what we asked with the base-hit bunt and another base hit.” Jarrett continued, “(Dillon) Stewart had quality at bats the whole night, with the home run, he drove the ball to right field later in the game. But we didn’t have enough of those types of at bats throughout the course of the game. You have to hand that to the way South Carolina pitched, and they pitched great.”
The Spartan offense was uncharacteristically quiet in the season opener, recording four hits. Stewart picked up where he left off a season ago, going 1-for-4 with a home run. Michael Goss (Cartersville, Ga./Chattanooga St. CC) added a single and Tripp Shelton (Winston-Salem, N.C./West Forsyth) added a 2-for-4 performance.
Jack Maynard (Crozet, Va./Patrick Henry CC) started the opening day matchup. The junior tossed 3.1 innings, allowing six hits and striking out three batters. UNCG used four relievers to finish out the game. Jake Lewis (Wendell, N.C./Corinth Holders) logged 2.2 innings, allowing just one hit and picking up a strikeout.
The Gamecocks drew first blood in the home half of the first inning. Alex Destino singled through the right side to bring home TJ Hopkins, who led the inning off with a double. Destino later came around to score on a wild pitch.
UNCG cut the Gamecock lead in half in the top of the fourth inning. Stewart drilled the Spartan’s first home run of the season, a solo shot to left field to cut the score to 2-1.
South Carolina answered back in its half of the fourth inning, scoring four runs on four hits. Danny Blair, Hopkins and Destino drove in the runs for the Gamecocks.
South Carolina added to its lead in the bottom of the fifth, when Matt Williams scored on a wild pitch to put the Gamecocks up 7-1.
UNCG is back in action against South Carolina tomorrow afternoon at 2:00.