Baseball Grinds out Victory over North Carolina A&T at First National Bank Field
GREENSBORO, N.C. – Dan Loats (Eden Prairie, Minn./NIACC) and the Spartan bullpen didn’t allow an earned run in 8.1 innings of work as UNCG came from behind to defeat North Carolina A&T at the recently renamed First National Bank Field Wednesday night. The North Carolina A&T Aggies jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first inning, but the Spartans came all the way back to earn a 5-4 victory over the cross-town rival.
UNCG improves to 13-8 on the season, while the Aggies fall to 10-9. The Blue and Gold have now won six-straight games as it heads into Southern Conference play this weekend.
“We didn’t get out of the gates great today." Head coach Link Jarrett said, "We had two outs, nobody on and a 1-2 count and we hit a guy. Then two walks and they hit a ball into the corner and all of a sudden you’re down 3-0. I’m proud of the way (Dan) Loats came in and gave us quality innings out of the bullpen again. (Andrew) Wantz came in and kept that game right where it was. (Chad) Sykes came in and had a very clean ninth inning."
"We were down, but Austin (Embler)’s home run gave us a nice shot of momentum." Jarrett continued, "When he hit that ball out, it was well-struck. Its fun to watch a guy hit a ball like that. He had another big day, had a big two-out RBI , and another big hit late that allowed us to go first to third. Caleb Webster continues to grind out quality at bats. (Ben) Spitznagel laid down the squeeze, to get that down and score the game winning run was a great moment against a tough left-handed pitcher. It’s not easy to lay that down in that lefty-on-lefty matchup, but he did his job. I’m proud of the way we played, we weren’t sharp defensively right away, but we played better and cleaner as the game went on."
Travis Tuttle (Winston-Salem, N.C./Surrey CC) started his first game as a Spartan. Tuttle threw 0.2 of the first inning, allowing just one hit, but issuing three walks a hit batter and gave up three runs. Dan Loats (Eden Prairie, Minn./NIACC) was first out of the bullpen. The junior logged a solid 4.2 innings in relief, scattering three hits, gave up an unearned run and struck out five hitters. Andrew Wantz (Holly Springs, N.C./Holly Springs) threw the next 2.2 innings, struck out three hitters without allowing a hit and earned the win (5-2) Chad Sykes (Creedmoor, N.C./Voyager Academy) tossed a perfect ninth frame, earning the save (5) with one strikeout.
Austin Embler (Southern Pines, N.C./Pinecrest) led the Spartan offense with three hits. The second baseman finished 3-for-5 with two RBI, a run scored and a home run. Caleb Webster (Randleman, N.C./Randleman) notched a 2-for-4 performance. Devin Ruiz (Pennsauken, N.J./Paul VI) added a 2-for-3 performance with a run scored.
The Aggies used a two-out rally to take the lead in the top of the first inning. North Carolina A&T took advantage of a hit batter and two walks before Timothy Ravare doubled to right field to score three.
North Carolina A&T added another run in the top of the third inning. Ravare doubled down the right field line and came around to score on a throwing error to push the lead to 4-0 Aggies.
UNCG fought its way back into it, scoring single runs in the third, fourth and fifth innings. Austin Embler (Southern Pines, N.C./Pinecrest) hit his second home run of the season, a solo shot off the right field foul pole in the third. In the fourth, Embler struck again, singling up the middle to drive in Ryan Clinch (Jamestown, N.C./Brunswick CC). Andrew Moritz (Charlotte, N.C./Providence) showcased his speed in the fifth. The sophomore tripled down the first base line, and scored when Cesar Trejo (Greensboro, N.C./Ragsdale) hit a looper to shallow center field that was caught by the second baseman. In the A&T defender’s effort to make the catch, he fell to the ground, allowing Moritz to score.
The Spartans took their first lead of the contest in the bottom of the sixth inning. Devin Ruiz (Pennsauken, N.J./Paul VI) singled to start the frame and stole second. Ryne Sigmon (Danville, Va./Danville) singled through the right side to score Ruiz and tie the game up at four. Embler dropped in a single to centerfield that was misplayed, allowing both runners to move into scoring position. Ben Spitznagel (Cincinnati, Ohio/Wabash Valley CC) and Sigmon executed the squeeze play as Spitznagel’s bunt allowed Sigmon to score and take the lead, 5-4.
Sykes came on in the ninth inning and retired every batter he faced, including a strikeout. Sykes has now struck out at least one hitter in his last 32 outings.
UNCG is back in action Friday night at 6:00 as it hosts the Western Carolina Catamounts at the UNCG Baseball Stadium.