Wantz Strikes out Eight in Relief as Baseball Defeats Elon
GREENSBORO, N.C. – Spartan baseball got another tremendous effort from junior Andrew Wantz (Holly Springs, N.C./Holly Springs) in relief as UNCG was able to come back out of a 5-0 deficit to defeat the Elon Phoenix 12-8 on Tuesday evening. The Spartans had eight players get a hit in the contest, with four having multi-hit games. UNCG improves to 6-6 on the season, while Elon falls to 6-7.
“(Andrew) Wantz really came in and picked us up with an extended outing.” Head coach Link Jarrett said, “He seemed to get better as he went. There was a play where he dove trying to catch a popped up bunt, wasn’t able to get it and was able to pick it up and to have the wherewithal to throw the runner out from his knees shows you how athletic and competitive he is. “
“We had so many big at bats today.” Jarrett continued, “A lot of guys had big offensive days. To be down five, against a very good baseball team and come all the way back and then extend the lead with (Dillon) Stewart’s double was big, Clinch’s triple off the lefty was huge. Embler had a big base hit off the same lefty and those helped us extend our lead.”
“Early on, (James) Venuto had a big day.” Said Jarrett, “He hit the one out to right and then hit the double off the batter’s eye, that guy helped them extended early and we didn’t have much going early. The bottom of the fourth helped get us back in it. Embler started with the base knock, and then the base hit bunt set the table for the home run that gave us momentum to get back into it. That’s a very good win over a quality opponent and I’m proud of our team.”
Dan Loats (Eden Prairie, Minn./NIACC) got his third start of the season. The junior gave up three hits, surrendered five runs, walked four and struck out three batters. Brandon Stephens (Willow Spring, N.C./Wake Christian Academy) logged 2.0 innings, surrendering a hit and two earned runs while issuing four walks. Wantz earned the victory, tossing the final 4.0 innings, giving up two hits, one earned run and striking out eight hitters.
The Spartan offense registered 14 hits, with four players earning multiple hits in the contest. Cesar Trejo (Greensboro, N.C./Ragsdale) went 2-for-5 with a home run, four RBI and a run scored. Austin Embler (Southern Pines, N.C./Pinecrest) and Caleb Webster (Randleman, N.C./Randleman) each finished 3-for-5 with an RBI and two runs scored. Dillon Stewart (Dunn, N.C./Brunswick CC) and Ryan Clinch (Jamestown, N.C./Brunswick CC) both tallied two RBI.
The Phoenix scored the first runs of the game, tallying three in the top of the second. Kory Shumate opened ths scoring on a two-out passed ball. After a pair of walks, Ryne Ogren connected for a double off of the top of the wall in left center to drive in two and put Elon up 3-0. Elon added to its lead in the top of the fourth, scoring a pair on a James Venuto home run.
UNCG cut into the Phoenix lead in the bottom of the fourth frame. Back-to-back singles from Embler and Webster started the frame. Andrew Moritz (Charlotte, N.C./Providence) singled into right field to load the bases, but a fielding error by the Phoenix right fielder allowed Embler to score. Dillon Stewart (Dunn, N.C./Brunswick CC) hit a deep fly ball to left field for a sacrifice fly to score another. Cesar Trejo (Greensboro, N.C./Ragsdale) added the exclamation point on the inning, hitting his first home run of the season, a two-run shot to cut the lead to 5-4.
Elon extended the lead back to three as Venuto hit a double off the batter’s eye in center field to score a pair.
UNCG tied the game up at seven, scoring three runs in the bottom of the fifth inning. Embler hit a one out single before Webster put two in scoring position with a double. Moritz drove in one after a throwing error by the third baseman. Trejo followed with a bloop single to center field to score two and tie the game up.
The Spartans took their first lead of the contest in the bottom of the sixth. Elon knotted the game up in the next half inning, taking advantage of a bases loaded walk to tie the game at 8-8.
The Blue and Gold was able to regain the lead in the bottom of the seventh frame. With one out, Michael Goss (Cartersville, Ga./Chattanooga State CC) walked. After a pitching change, Ryne Sigmon (Danville, Va./Danville CC) walked to put two on. After a strikeout, Ryan Clinch (Jamestown, N.C./Brunswick CC) took a 2-2 pitch down the line in right field to score two and put UNCG up. Embler followed with a single through the left side to drive in Clinch and give UNCG the 11-8 lead.
UNCG extended the lead in the bottom of the eighth, Moritz connected on a triple and was driven home on a Stewart double.
The Blue and Gold is back in action this weekend as it hosts the Princeton Tigers in a four-game series beginning Friday evening at 4:00 p.m.