CULLOWHEE, N.C. – After giving up a three-run home run to the Western Carolina Catamounts in the bottom of the first inning, UNCG’s Matt Frisbee locked in over the next six innings, facing one batter over the minimum. The Spartans got a couple long balls from Ryan Clinch and Tripp Shelton to erase the early deficit and claim the 9-3 win. UNCG improve to 22-7 on the season and 3-1 in Southern Conference play. Western Carolina drops to 3-25 and 1-6 in league action.
Frisbee started the game on the mound. After running into some trouble in the first inning, he retired 20 of the next 22 hitters. The two hitters that did reach, he got out with a pick off and Dillon Stewart threw out the lead off hitter in the fifth inning attempting to stretch a single into a double. Frisbee struck out nine hitters and walked just one, earning his sixth-straight win.
At the plate, two Spartans registered multiple hit contests. Austin Embler finished 2-for-5 with an RBI. Cesar Trejo added a 2-for-4 performance with two RBI and two runs scored. Clinch and Shelton each hit their second homers of the season, driving in three and two runs, respectively.
“Any time you can come on the road and win that first game, it gives you some momentum going into the rest of the series.” Head coach Link Jarrett said, “(Matt) Frisbee was emotionally charged going out there. He had to settle down and work his way out of some stuff he created in the first inning. Once he settled in you could see the capabilities he brings to the table. He’s from the area and wanted to come over here and perform. After he settled in, he was able to command the ball and pitched very deep into that game is a testament to his character.”
“(Ryan) Clinch’s home run was a game changer for us.” Jarrett continued, “(Zach) Kuchmaner’s bunt set him up and he got a pitch he could handle and hit it well. Tripp (Shelton) had a nice home run, Cesar (Trejo)’s at bat with the bases loaded, to tack on a few more later in the game was a quality at bat. Our team defense overall today was really good. We made some athletic plays at a lot of different spots around the field. That’s a great tribute to our athleticism. When we defend like that it gives your pitching a chance.”
Western Carolina jumped ahead early, getting a three-run homer from Justice Bigbie in the bottom of the first to take a 3-0 lead.
UNCG responded in the top of the second. Dillon Stewart led off with a single and moved over after a Trejo walk. A sac bunt moved them into scoring position and Clinch turned on an inside pitch for a three-run homer to tie it up.
The Spartans took the lead in the top of the fourth. After Trejo reached on a error, Zach Kuchmaner tripled to right center to drive a run in. Shelton brought in Kuchmaner with his third home run of the season, a two-run blast over Western Carolina’s 20’ purple monster in left field to put UNCG up 6-3.
UNCG mounted a two-out rally in the top of the seventh inning. Caleb Webster worked a full count before drawing a walk and advanced on a wild pitch. He moved to third after an infield hit from Andrew Moritz. A walk to Stewart loaded the bases for Trejo. Trejo lined a single back up the middle to score a pair and put the Spartans up 8-3.
The Blue and Gold tacked on another run in the top of the eighth inning. After Shelton reached on an error by the Catamount second baseman, he stole second to move into scoring position for Embler. Embler drove a double the opposite way, hitting the top half of the outfield fence to drive in Shelton and put the Spartans up 9-3.
The Spartans and Catamounts will attempt to finish the three-game series tomorrow with a doubleheader beginning at 1 p.m. from Hennon Stadium.