Maynard Tames Catamounts as Baseball Takes Game One of the SoCon Season
GREENSBORO, N.C. – Jack Maynard (Crozet, Va./Patrick Henry CC) was dialed in as UNCG used his 7.0 inning start to earn a 5-4 victory over last season’s Southern Conference Tournament Champion, Western Carolina Catamounts. Maynard scattered four hits in the seven innings, and struck out seven hitters as UNCG improves to 14-8 overall, and 1-0 in Southern Conference action.
“That was a great Friday night game, we had great energy inside the stadium.” Head coach Link Jarrett said, “(Jack) Maynard was outstanding, he had command of his fastball and his secondary pitches were very effective. He mixed extremely well. That was his best start of the season and we needed it tonight. He did everything we asked him to do, and that’s what we expect to get out of Jack. Against that caliber of an offensive team, he knew he had to be at his best and he was.”
“(Ben) Spitznagel had a great night at the plate.” Jarrett continued, “(Tripp) Shelton with a triple kind of got us rolling. There were a lot of two-strike at bats in the second inning that helped us in that rally. You look back and see Shelton, (Devin) Ruiz and (Ryan) Clinch all had hits in two-strike counts. (Ryne) Sigmon’s bunt was beautiful. We knew coming into tonight against (Bryan) Sammons (WCU) that we had to try and create some offense. We made a real effort to use our short game and I thought the guys executed it perfectly. Spitznagel added the base hit, following Embler’s base knock, to drive Embler in was another key add on run. Shelton’s safety squeeze was another big play that allowed us to tack on runs against a really good arm. I’m proud of the way we executed. Our defense was excellent tonight, and that’s a very good win for our program.”
Maynard picked a great time to have his most effective start of the season. The junior threw 7.0 innings, scattering four hits, allowing one earned run a walk and striking out seven hitters en route to earning his second win of the season. Andrew Wantz (Holly Springs, N.C./Holly Springs) tossed in the eighth inning. He gave up two hits, a pair of earned runs and a strikeout. Chad Sykes (Creedmoor, N.C./Voyager Academy) earned his sixth save of the season in dramatic fashion. The junior gave up a hit, walked three hitters to give up a run but turned it on against the final two batters. Sykes struck out Cameron Blaquiere with the bases loaded and one out, coming back from being down 3-0. He followed that by inducing a ground out from Brett Pope to earn the save and preserve the victory.
Seven of nine hitters connected for at least one base hit in the contest, with three earning multi-hit games. Tripp Shelton (Winston-Salem, N.C./West Forsyth) finished 2-for-2 with two RBI, a run scored and a triple. Ben Spitznagel (Cincinnati, Ohio/Wabash Valley CC) went 2-for-4 with an RBI, and Caleb Webster (Randleman, N.C./Randleman) continues to swing a hot bat, going 2-for-4 with a run scored.
The Spartans got to Western Carolina’s ace in the bottom of the second inning, scoring three runs. Caleb Webster (Randleman, N.C./Randleman) singled to start the frame, and scored on Tripp Shelton’s (Winston-Salem, N.C./West Forsyth) first triple of the year. Devin Ruiz (Pennsauken, N.J./Paul VI) dropped in a single to center field to score the second run of the inning. A Ryan Clinch (Jamestown, N.C./Brunswick CC) single and a sacrifice bunt from Ryne Sigmon (Danville, Va./Danville CC) put two in scoring position. Austin Embler (Southern Pines, N.C./Pinecrest) ground out to score Ruiz and give UNCG the 3-0 lead.
Embler connected on a one-out single and stole second base in the bottom of the fifth frame. Spitznagel connected with a vintage Spitznagel single, dumping it in front of the left fielder, scoring Embler and giving UNCG the 4-0 lead.
The Spartans tacked on an insurance run in the bottom of the sixth inning. Cesar Trejo (Greensboro, N.C./Ragsdale) led off with a walk and moved to third after a bunt hit from Webster and an error moved both into scoring position. Shelton executed a safety squeeze to score Trejo and push the lead to 5-0.
Western Carolina got on the board in the top of the seventh inning by virtue of a Caleb Robinson solo home run.
The Catamounts continued to take advantage of some uncharacteristic pitching from the Spartan bullpen. In the top of the eighth, WCU scored a pair of runs. After a one-out walk, Pope singled to center field to put runners on the corners. A wild pitch allowed one to score, and moved Pope into scoring position. Bryson Bowman connected for a single through the right side to score Pope and cut the lead to 5-3.
The ninth inning featured some dramatics. UNCG gave up a hit and three walks to score a run and load the bases. Sykes struck out Blaquiere for the second out, before getting Pope to roll over one to Embler who threw to Michael Goss (Cartersville, Ga./Chattanooga State CC) for the final out of the game.
UNCG and Western Carolina are back in action tomorrow afternoon at 3:00 p.m. for the second game of the three-game Southern Conference series.