GREENSBORO, N.C. – UNCG baseball was down 6-1 to the Appalachian State Mountaineers before moving within striking distance with six outs left. The comeback attempt fell short, as the Spartans were unable to score in the final two innings Sunday evening at the UNCG Baseball Stadium. Jack Maynard (Crozet, Va./Patrick Henry CC) kept the Spartans within striking distance, not allowing a run over the final 3.2 innings of play and tied a career-high with eight strikeouts. The Blue and Gold fall to 2-1 on the season, while App State improves to 1-2.
“We got in our own way on the mound during this one.” Head coach Link Jarrett said, “We gave them too many free opportunities with walks and hit batters and it comes back to bite you. We outhit that team, but they won the baseball game because they had discipline at the plate. They were able to take advantage of their freebies, hit two out of the park and had a big double. They earned the win. I thought their pitching was good, I thought their starting pitching was effective in all three games. I think that’s a quality team with a very good pitching staff and they earned it today.
“(Jack) Maynard was impressive in his extended outing.” Jarrett continued, “He had great command of his stuff today. That pitch he threw to (Riley) Smith he’d like to have back, he threw so many good changeups, that was one that just got left up a little more and didn’t quite have the action as some of his others. That one hurt, but you’ll take that effort and that outing any day.”
Trey Kissack (Grand Island, Neb./Southeast CC) made his Spartan debut Sunday afternoon, getting the start on the hill. The sophomore went 4.0 innings allowing just one hit and two earned runs to go with five strikeouts. Jack Ponder (Candler, N.C./Enka) also made his Spartan debut, going 1.1 innings, giving up four runs and recording a strikeout.
Maynard came on in a jam in the sixth and worked the final 3.2 innings of the game. He allowed just two hits, struck out eight and didn’t walk a batter.
At the plate, UNCG out hit App State 13-4 but could not come up with the timely hit as UNCG left 10 runners on base. Caleb Webster (Randleman, N.C./Randleman) and Andrew Moritz (Charlotte, N.C./Providence) led the offense with 3-for-5 performances and each scored a run. Dillon Stewart (Coats, N.C./Brunswick CC) finished 1-for-4 with a two-RBI double and scored once. Ryan Clinch (Jamestown, N.C./Brunswick CC) and Josh Madole (Hampstead, N.C./Topsail) added a pair of hits apiece.
App State broke open a scoreless game in the top of the fourth inning. Conner Leonard worked a walk before Kendall McGowan hit a two-run homer to left field to put the Mountaineers up 2-0.
UNCG cut into the lead in the bottom half of the fourth. Cesar Trejo (Greensboro, N.C./Ragsdale) got on with a one-out walk and Clinch sent a chopper to the left side where App State was able to stop it, but indecision by the App State defense forced a throwing error and Trejo moved up to third to put runners on the corners. Clinch attempted to steal second but was thrown out as Trejo came home to cut lead to 2-1 on the caught stealing.
The Mountaineers used a similar recipe to add to its lead in the fifth inning. A lead off walk from Riley Smith put one on for Drew Beck who homered to left field to go up 4-1. App State took advantage of a pair of walks in the sixth inning. A weak ground out moved runners into scoring position for Smith who doubled down the left field line to extend the lead to 6-1.
The Spartans got a rally going in the bottom of the seventh, scoring three runs. Webster took a 2-0 pitch to right field to get things started. Moritz sent a double down the left field line to put two in scoring position for Stewart who delivered with a double to right center. After moving to third on a wild pitch, Tripp Shelton (Winston, Salem, N.C./West Forsyth) sent a grounder to the right side to score Stewart and cut the lead down to 6-4.
UNCG’s comeback attempt fell short as the Spartans put just one base runner on over the final two innings.
The Spartans are back in action Tuesday evening as they host the Oakland Golden Grizzlies at 4 p.m. at the UNCG Baseball Stadium.