GREENSBORO, N.C. – Jack Maynard (Crozet, Va./Patrick Henry CC) entered Wednesday’s contest against the Elon Phoenix in a high-pressure situation in the bottom of the fifth inning. With the bases loaded in a 5-5 ballgame, Maynard stepped up and struck out the Elon leadoff hitter looking to strand all three runners. He went on to strikeout seven more hitters as he earned his third win of the season at Latham Park. After three innings of being tied at five, UNCG rallied in the top of the ninth as Tripp Shelton (Winston-Salem, N.C./West Forsyth) drove in the game-winning runs to earn a 7-5 win and improve UNCG to 8-4. Elon falls to 5-8 with the loss.
“That’s a good win.” Head coach Link Jarrett said, “We fell behind early and we were playing sloppy. We didn’t pitch it particularly well. We had a lot of walks and we gave them a lot of opportunities to capitalize. A couple defensive miscues also helped them (Elon), but we continued to battle and offensively we were able to do enough to finally begin to scratch and score a little bit.”
“(Jack) Maynard came in and really swung the momentum in our direction.” Jarrett continued, “The way he continued to rack up strikeouts throughout the game was really key. We extended him and let him go because he was pitching so effectively. We felt good being able to bring in (Andrew) Wantz there in the ninth with the two-run lead. We had good at bats throughout the game, and in the ninth. A few uncharacteristic strikeouts, but overall it was a good, competitive game and I was happy we were able to come away with the win.”
Dan Loats (Eden Prairie, Minn./NIACC) got the start on the mound for the Spartans. Loats went 3.0 innings without allowing a hit; gave up two unearned runs and struck out two hitters. Jake Lewis (Wendell, N.C./Corinth Holders) was first out of the bullpen. The lefty tossed two-thirds of an inning, allowing one hit two earned runs and struck out a hitter.
Easton Welch (Randleman, N.C./Gardner-Webb) was next out of the bullpen. The redshirt senior entered with a runner on and got a ground out to end the threat. In total, Welch tossed 1.0 innings, allowed one hit and one earned run. Maynard came on and tied a career-high, striking out eight hitters in 3.1 innings of work. He scattered three hits and walked a batter as he earned his third win of the season.
Andrew Wantz (Holly Springs, N.C./Holly Springs) came on in the ninth and struck out the side to earn his fourth save.
The Spartan offense saw its three, four and five hitters in the lineup combine to go 6-for-12 with four RBI and three runs scored. Andrew Moritz (Charlotte, N.C./Providence) scored two runs off of two hits. Dillon Stewart added two RBI on a 2-for-3 performance with two walks. Cesar Trejo (Greensboro, N.C./Ragsdale) added two hits and two RBI as Shelton’s lone hit drove in the game-winning runs.
Elon got on the board first, taking advantage of some UNCG miscues. With two outs, a pair of hit batters put two on for Peter Perkins. Perkins lifted a high fly ball to shallow right field where it was misplayed. It stayed in the air long enough to allow the runners to score as Elon took a 2-0 lead.
The Spartans used four-straight singles to tie the game at two in the fourth inning. Caleb Webster (Randleman, N..C./Randleman) singled and moved to third on an Moritz single through the right side. Stewart drove a single to right field on a hit and run with Moritz to drive in Webster and keep runners on the corners. Trejo added another single to bring in Moritz before the next three hitters were retired.
Elon didn’t wait long to regain the two-run cushion. The Phoenix took advantage of a pair of walks to put two on before a soft ground out to third moved both into scoring position. Matt Oldham drove a single to right field to score two to put the Phoenix back up 4-2.
UNCG responded with a rally inning of its own to take its first lead of the game. Greg Hardison (Greenville, N.C./JH Rose) singled to start and moved to third on an Austin Embler (Southern Pines, N.C./Pinecrest) single. A passed ball on the second strikeout of the inning allowed the first run to score. Stewart followed with a double to center field to bring in Embler and tie the game at four. Trejo drove a ball the other way, landing in front of the right fielder and Stewart slid head first and reached his left hand around the tag as UNCG went up 5-4.
The Phoenix tied it up in the bottom of the fifth inning on a solo homer from James Venuto to start the inning. Elon loaded the bases but Maynard punched out Zach Evers to strand the bases and keep the game tied at five.
After three scoreless innings, UNCG grabbed the lead in the top of the ninth. Embler drew a lead off walk and moved to second on a Moritz single. Stewart worked a six-pitch walk to load the bases with one out. After a strikeout, Shelton came up with the clutch base hit as his grounder up the middle was fielded by a diving Elon second baseman, but he was unable to record an out as Embler and Moritz came around to score.
Wantz came on and struck out the side in the ninth to preserve the victory.
The Spartans are back in action this weekend as they host the Lafayette Leopards for a three-game series beginning Friday night.