21-Hit Performance Leads Baseball to Dominating Win Over UNC Asheville
GREENSBORO, N.C. – UNCG baseball earned 21 base hits as the team earned a 14-3 victory over the visiting UNC Asheville Bulldogs Tuesday night at the UNCG Baseball Stadium. All nine starters recorded at least one hit, and nine players had multiple hit performances. UNCG is now 16-9 on the season, and has won nine of its last 10 contests. UNC Asheville falls to 10-13 on the season.
“(Dan) Loats had a good start for us tonight, but he got into a little trouble in the fifth.” Head coach Link Jarrett said, “It’s a shame he couldn’t work out of it, but (Alex) Sova came in and got the ground ball to short and then struck out the next three hitters. That was a pivotal point in the game for us on the mound. I thought all the guys threw well. It was good to see (Michael) Bates out there again. He hasn’t been out there in quite some time and he adds another dimension to our staff.”
“I’m very proud of our performance offensively, up and down the lineup.” Jarrett continued, “Starting off with (Austin) Embler hitting the homer to start the game and you follow that up with a base-hit bunt from (Ben) Spitznagel. We talked a lot about how to deal with UNC Asheville’s lefty, he gave us trouble last season and I thought we continued to grind away in our approach. We put balls in play and made solid contact. Up and down the lineup we had tough at bats and tough outs. Everyone had at least one base hit and we had great production, 1-9. JoJo (Underwood) had some good at bats and hitting a home run was great to see. He works very hard. I’m proud of the way we played tonight. We needed this game and we came out and played a solid game all the way around.”
Dan Loats (Eden Prairie, Minn./NIACC) started on the mound. Loats threw 4.2 innings, allowing three hits and three earned runs while recording a career-best eight strikeouts. Although UNCG was leading with Loats on the hill, the starter did not complete the five-inning minimum needed to earn the decision. Alex Sova (Midland, Mich./Kellogg CC) logged 1.1 innings in relief, earning his fist won. Sova didn’t allow a hit, struck out three batters and retired all four that he faced.
Ben Kerner (Cary, N.C./Brunswick CC) worked a scoreless seventh, allowing a hit. Easton Welch (Randleman, N.C./Gardner-Webb) worked in the eighth, allowing a pair of hits, but inducing a double play and striking out a hitter. Michael Bates (Winston-Salem, N.C./West Forsyth) made his first appearance since the 2015 season. The redshirt sophomore threw a scoreless ninth inning, recording a pair of strikeouts.
The Spartan offense had nine players go for multiple hit games, as the team tallied 21 hits. It’s the third time this season UNCG has had at least 20 hits in a game. Austin Embler (Southern Pines, N.C./Pinecrest) and JoJo Underwood (Cartersville, Ga./Chattanooga State CC) each hit home runs. Embler finished 3-for-6 with three runs scored and an RBI. Underwood was 3-for-4 with three RBI and two runs. Caleb Webster (Randleman, N.C./Randleman) also added three hits, going 3-for-5 with two RBI and two runs scored.
Cesar Trejo (Greensboro, N.C./Ragsdale) led the team with four RBI in his 2-for-4 performance. Zach Kuchmaner (Charlotte, N.C./Marvin Ridge) came in off the bench to go a perfect 2-for-2 with a run scored.
UNCG got on the board with a bang in the first inning, as Embler sent a 1-2 pitch to Kenilworth Street to take a 1-0 lead. It’s the first time that UNCG’s lead off hitter has hit a home run since March 8th, 2015. Zac MacAneney was the last to accomplish the feat against Princeton.
The Spartans added to their lead in the bottom of the second inning. Tripp Shelton (Winston-Salem, N.C./West Forsyth) and Ryan Clinch (Jamestown, N.C./Brunswick CC) singled to put runners on. Underwood singled up the middle to score one. After an Embler pop up, Ben Spitznagel (Cincinnati, Ohio/Wabash Valley CC) singled through the box to score Clinch. Trejo followed with a single of his own to score Underwood. UNCG led 4-0 after two innings.
The Blue and Gold continued to rally in the bottom of the third, scoring five runs on five hits. Four of the five hits were singles, and Trejo hit a bases-clearing double to score three and push the lead to 9-0.
Joe Zayatz got UNC Asheville on the board in the fourth, hitting a solo home run. The Bulldogs added to their total on an RBI single from Justin Woods, cutting the lead to 9-2.
UNCG tallied a run in the bottom of the fourth inning. Webster singled to start the inning, and advanced to second on a wild pitch. After a fly out moved him to third base, Ryne Sigmon (Danville, Va./Danville CC) ground out to second base, allowing Webster to score and push the lead to 10-2.
UNC Asheville got a run back by virtue of a bases-loaded walk in the top of the fifth to trim the lead to 10-3.
The Spartans added to their lead in the seventh, scoring three more runs on four hits. Underwood capped the scoring with his second home run of the season in the bottom of the eighth.
UNCG baseball is back in action Friday at 6:30 p.m. as it takes on the ETSU Buccaneers in Johnson City, Tenn. This will be the first game outside of the Gate City since Feb. 21st.