Big Inning Too Much as Baseball Falls to Western Carolina
GREENSBORO, N.C. – The Western Carolina Catamounts used a two-out rally to score five runs in the fourth inning that proved to be too much for UNCG to come back from as the Spartans fell to the Catamounts, 9-5 Saturday afternoon. The loss snaps a seven-game UNCG winning streak. The Spartans fall to 14-9 on the season, and 1-1 in Southern Conference play. Western Carolina improves to 9-13, and 1-1 in the SoCon.
“Good ball game today.” Head coach Link Jarrett said,” They had a big inning where they scored five runs. We walked the nine-hole guy and that’s something we talk about with (Bryce) Hensley, he had a chance to close that inning out and they (WCU) were able to flip that lineup over and found holes. Hensley pitched ok, but he didn’t get any breaks and he got himself into some trouble. He wasn’t able to wiggle out of it today. It was good to see (Alex) Sova out of the bullpen give us over two innings. (Jake) Lewis had a good outing, he started to rack up some strikeouts so it was good to see his breaking ball be effective.”
“(Tristan) Baker (WCU) pitched a great game, we scratched here and there but never delivered a big blow to get us way back into it.” Jarrett continued, “I thought we competed well, but Baker really threw well. Tripp (Shelton) had three base hits, good at bats all day and played solid defensively. (Andrew) Moritz was productive again. He was just a homer away from the cycle, and that shows some of the versatility in his game. Tomorrow will be a good test for us. We need (Matt) Frisbee to be sharp and be on. Our bullpen is in good shape, their bullpen is in good shape, so it’ll be good SoCon Sunday.”
Bryce Hensley (Asheville, N.C./Catawba Valley CC) started on the hill. The junior threw 3.2 innings, allowing eight hits, seven runs; six earned, and struck out a pair as he suffered his third loss of the season. Alex Sova (Midland, Mich./Kellogg CC) worked 2.1 innings in relief, scattering three hits and an earned run along with a strikeout. Jake Lewis (Wendell, N.C./Corinth Holders) worked the next 2.1 innings without allowing a hit and racking up four strikeouts. Brandon Stephens (Willow Spring, N.C./Wake Christian Academy) threw the final 0.2 innings, allowing two hits and no runs.
Andrew Moritz (Charlotte, N.C./Providence) and Tripp Shelton (Winston-Salem, N.C./West Forsyth) led the offense. Moritz finished 3-for-5 with a double, a triple, an RBI and a run scored. Shelton finished 3-for-3 with a walk, and scored a run.
The Catamounts struck first in the top of the first inning. After a lead off single from Nobu Suzuki, a sac bunt put him in scoring position and Bryson Bowman tripled down the right field line to score him. Caleb Robinson followed with a two-out single to score Bowman and put WCU up 2-0.
UNCG was able to tie the game up, scoring one run in the bottom of the second and third innings. Shelton drew a one out walk in the second, and scored from first on a Devin Ruiz (Pennsauken, N.J./Paul VI) double to deep center field. Austin Embler (Southern Pines, N.C./Pinecrest) tripled to start the third, and scored on a Ben Spitznagel (Cincinnati, Ohio/Wabash Valley CC) sacrifice fly.
After a pair of strikeouts opened the top of the fourth, Western Carolina scored five runs in a two-out rally. Suzuki, Bowman and Matt Smith each had RBI hits in the frame.
The Spartans got a run back in the bottom of the fourth inning. Caleb Webster (Randleman, N.C./Randleman) singled and moved to second on a Shelton single. Ryan Clinch (Jamestown, N.C./Brunswick CC) hit into a fielder’s choice to put runners on the corners. Ryne Sigmon (Danville, Va./Danville CC) singled up the middle to bring in Webster and cut the lead to 7-3.
The Catamounts extended their lead back out to five following a Spencer Holcomb solo home run in the fifth.
UNCG scored a pair of runs in the bottom of the fifth. Spitznagel got the rally going with a single to left. Moritz tripled to right field to score one. Webster hit into a ground out, but it allowed Moritz to score to cut the lead to 8-5.
After three scoreless innings for both teams, WCU added on an insurance run in the top of the ninth. Bowman walked and moved to second on a wild pitch before Andrew Bullock doubled down the right field line to push the lead to 9-5.
UNCG and Western Carolina wrap up the series tomorrow afternoon, first pitch at 1:00 p.m.