Spartans Rally Late But Fall Short in the First Game of the Clemson Regional
CLEMSON, S.C. – Cesar Trejo (Greensboro, N.C./Ragsdale) hit a pair of home runs as the Spartans used the long ball to its advantage against the Clemson Tigers. UNCG dropped the opening round of the NCAA Clemson Regional, 5-4. The Spartans fall to 35-23 on the season, while the No. 15 Clemson Tigers improve to 40-19.
“That was a very exciting game.” Head coach Link Jarrett said, “Both pitchers executed at a very high level, but Clemson was able to capitalize on every mistake that we made. I was proud of the way we competed. (Jack) Maynard steadied things in the middle innings for us. Caleb (Webster) and Cesar (Trejo) swung the bat really well, but Clemson didn't make a lot of mistakes. There wasn't enough traffic for these swings to really do damage. It wasn't a lack of a quality at bat. Clemson executed on the mound and defensively they did a very nice job. That combines to limit the damage of our big swings.”
“The guys performed very well tonight in a very tricky place to play with the quality of fans, the volume and the number of fans, it's a great environment.” Jarrett continued, “We just tried to do a little too much tonight and that hurt us. I'm very proud of the way we competed. To win games of this caliber, you have to execute. There were moments where we have to execute better in order to come out on the winning side of something of this caliber. The effort was there, we just tried to do a little too much. Up and down the lineup we competed and on the mound we executed the game plan, Clemson just capitalized on some of our miscues along the way.”
Bryce Hensley (Asheville, N.C./Catawba Valley CC) made his team-best 17th start of the season against the Tigers. The junior went 4.2 innings, allowing five hits, four runs, three earned and struck out three batters. Jack Maynard (Crozet, Va./Patrick Henry CC) was first out of the bullpen. Maynard went 3.0 innings, exiting with two outs and a runner on third in the bottom of the eighth. Maynard gave up just one hit and struck out five without giving up an earned run. Andrew Wantz (Holly Springs, N.C./Holly Springs) made an appearance in the eighth, giving up a hit.
UNCG out hit the Tigers, recording 10 against the Clemson pitching staff. Trejo went 2-for-4 with a pair of solo home runs in the loss. Caleb Webster (Randleman, N.C./Randleman) added a 1-for-4 performance, hitting with a solo homer. Webster's was his first of the season, where Trejo's was his team-leading 11th and 12th. Andrew Moritz (Charlotte, N.C./Providence) and Michael Goss (Cartersville, Ga./Chattanooga St. CC) each finished 2-for-4. Moritz scored a run and Goss drove one in. Ryne Sigmon (Danville, Va./Danville CC) added a pair of hits in the eighth spot of the order.
The Spartans took the lead in the top of the fourth inning. With two outs, Webster launched his first career home run to left field to put the Spartans up 1-0.
Clemson took its first lead of the game, plating four runs in the bottom of the fifth inning. A single from Logan Davidson and a walk to Reed Rohlman put two on. Chase Pinder hit into a fielder's choice at first. Michael Goss (Cartersville, Ga./Chattanooga St. CC) fielded the ground ball and tagged Rohlman but UNCG was unable to record the double play. After an intentional walk to Seth Beer loaded the bases, Weston Jackson dropped a single in to right to plate a pair. Andrew Cox followed with a slow chopper to second where UNCG was unable to corral the baseball and two Tigers scored on the play. UNCG trailed 4-1 after five innings.
UNCG cut into the lead in the top of the seventh, getting Trejo's 11th home run of the season, a solo shot to the left of the batter's eye brought the score to 4-2.
The Spartans wouldn't go away as they scratched a run across in the top of the eighth. With two outs, Moritz singled to centerfield and moved up on a wild pitch. Goss looped a single to centerfield to drive in Moritz and cut the lead down to 4-3.
The Tigers extended the lead back out to two in the bottom of the eighth inning. A one out walk put a runner on, a failed pick off attempt and a wild pitch put a runner on third. Davidson dropped a single into centerfield to put Clemson back up by two at 5-3.
Trejo willed the Spartans back into the game, leading off the top of the ninth with a solo homer off the scoreboard in left center to cut the lead to 5-4. Sigmon singled and Devin Ruiz (Pennsauken, N.J./Paul VI) pinch hit with one out. Ruiz hit a sharp line drive back up the middle but the Clemson pitcher knocked it down and threw Ruiz out at first with Sigmon advancing. Ben Spitznagel (Cincinnati, Ohio/Wabash Valley CC) came to bat and hit a soft line drive out to second for the final out, stranding the tying run.
The Blue and Gold are back in action tomorrow against the St. John's Red Storm at 12 p.m. at Doug Kingsmore Stadium.