Baseball Storms Back and Rides a Strong Performance From Wantz to Defeat ETSU
GREENVILLE, S.C. – UNCG baseball earned a 6-4 victory over the ETSU Buccaneers Friday afternoon in the second round of the Southern Conference Tournament presented by Holston Gases. In a back-and-forth game, UNCG scored two runs in the top of the sixth and get 3.1 outstanding innings in relief from junior Andrew Wantz (Holly Springs, N.C./Holly Springs) to get the win. UNCG improves to 33-21 and will face Furman Saturday at noon in the winner's bracket of the Southern Conference Tournament. ETSU falls to 28-28 and will play VMI in the consolation bracket.
“That was a very intense, 6-4 game.” Head coach Link Jarrett said, “Coming into this, we were hoping (Matt) Frisbee gave us a good start, and its started well, but (Alex) Sova and (Andrew) Wantz were able to get in there and pick us up. Wantz got in there and ate up outs, and ate up innings was a key difference in the ball game. (Jack) Maynard, all the way down to the last pitch, was battling. The double plays in the seventh and ninth innings were game-changing defensive plays.”
“Offensively, we had some opportunities, and obviously they know what they're doing on the mound and they made big pitches.” Jarrett continued, “We were able to get six runs on the board, and six runs has won the last four games of this tournament. I can't say enough about Ryan Clinch today. He's back there essentially all year, and he's beat up. The triple and the two-run single that he had were massive parts of our offensive game today.”
Matt Frisbee (Candler, N.C./Enka) got the start and threw 3.1 innings, allowing four hits and three earned runs. Alex Sova (Midland, Mich./Kellogg CC) was first out of the bullpen, going 1.1 innings, allowing a hit and a run, setting the stage for Wantz. Wantz came on in the top of the fifth inning and worked into the ninth. He allowed three hits, two of which led off the ninth inning as he earned his sixth win of the season. Jack Maynard (Crozet, Va./Patrick Henry CC) came on with runners on the corners and no outs before getting a pop up and a double play to earn his second save of the season.
At the plate, UNCG had ten hits, with three players recording multi-hit contests. Ryan Clinch (Jamestown, N.C./Brunswick CC) finished 2-for-4 with a triple, two RBI and a run scored. His triple is UNCG's 33rd on the year, setting a new school record. Caleb Webster (Randleman, N.C./Randleman) added a 2-for-4 performance with a double and a run scored. Ben Spitznagel (Cincinnati, Ohio/Wabash Valley CC) earned two base hits and scored a run. Cesar Trejo (Greensboro, N.C./Ragsdale) hit his team-leading 10th home run to give UNCG a two-run cushion in the eighth inning.
The Spartans jumped out to a quick 2-0 lead in the top of the first inning. Spitznagel and Tripp Shelton (Winston-Salem, N.C./West Forsyth) drew back-to-back walks to start the game. After a sacrifice bunt from Andrew Moritz (Charlotte, N.C./Providence), Michael Goss (Cartersville, Ga./Chattanooga St. CC) singled through the right side to drive in both.
ETSU cut the Spartan lead in half in the bottom of the third. Hunter Parker connected for a single with two outs, and stole second. Chris Cook followed with a double off the wall in center field, scoring Parker.
The Bucs took their first lead of the game in the bottom of the fourth. After two walks and a single loaded the bases with no outs, Jammer Strickland connected with a single to right to drive in two and give ETSU the 3-2 lead.
UNCG battled back to score an unearned run in the fifth and tie the game up. Clinch tripled down the right field line and scored when Moritz hit a chopper off the end of the bat that was misplayed by the ETSU shortstop.
ETSU took the lead back in the bottom of the frame. With runners on the corners, Christian Bailey hit a ball back to Sova who knocked it down and got the out at first, but the play allowed Cook to score.
The Spartans were able to regain the lead in the top of the sixth inning. After Zach Kuchmaner (Charlotte, N.C./Marvin Ridge) led off with a walk, Webster doubled to left field to put two in scoring position. ETSU went to the bullpen to bring in left-handed pitcher Jamin McCann to face the left-handed hitting Clinch. Clinch drove a single to right center to score two and put the Spartans up 5-4.
Trejo added to the Spartan lead in the eighth, belting a solo home run to center field to give UNCG the 6-4 lead.
ETSU threatened in the ninth, putting the first two runners on base. Maynard got Hagan Owenby to pop up to shortstop before getting Bailey to hit into a double play to end the contest.
UNCG is back in action tomorrow at noon as they will face the Furman Paladins in the winner's bracket of the Southern Conference Touranment.