GREENSBORO, N.C. – Senior left-handed pitcher Bryce Hensley tossed his first-career nine inning complete game in a 7-2 victory over the Samford Bulldogs Saturday afternoon. This is Hensley’s second complete game, logging all seven innings in a win over Lafayette in 2017. UNCG clinched the series over the Bulldogs who entered the weekend having swept three-straight series and hadn’t lost a series since March 11th. The Spartans improve to 28-10 on the season, and 9-2 in Southern Conference play. Samford falls to 24-16 and 10-4 in league action.
Hensley tossed the full nine innings, scattering nine hits, allowing two runs, one earned and struck out three while not issuing a walk to earn his fourth win of the season.
At the plate, Caleb Webster came up clutch all game. The sophomore finished 3-for-3 with three RBI and scored a run. Austin Embler and Tripp Shelton added multi-hit games. Embler finished 2-for-4 with two runs scored. Shelton ended 2-for-3 with two runs scored and a double. Andrew Moritz added a 1-for-5 performance and drove in two runs.
“Bryce (Hensley) was fantastic today.” Head coach Link Jarrett said, “He got better as he went along. He wanted to finish that game and he earned it. It was a really good, quality outing. He had multiple pitches in play all day. Fastball to both sides, slider, curveball, used his change a little bit. Great start. Can’t ask for more than what he did today. He did a great job pitching through some stuff. We didn’t defend well as we have. But he pitched through it.”
“Offensively, Samford’s lefty is very good.” Jarrett continued, “Strickland is tough. He’s got a tough fastball with some velocity and late life on it. He went to his secondary pitches in the middle of the game and really started to use those. I was proud of our guys to get on some fastballs early because we knew that something we had to do coming into this one. Our short game really helped us throughout the game. Caleb (Webster)’s sacrifice in the first inning helped us get a run in. Putting two on the board in the first inning really helped us build some confidence. Our bunting game really helped us break it open in the sixth. Madole and Embler each laid down really nice sacrifices that Samford couldn’t play cleanly and that allowed us add on. It was a great at bat by Webster off of the reliever to stay on the breaking ball and shoot it through. I was really proud of the way we played the game today.”
The Spartans jumped ahead early, plating a pair of runs in the first inning. Embler led off with a chopper that got through the right side. After a sacrifice bunt from Webster, Moritz drove a single to left center to score Embler. Cesar Trejo chopped a ball back up the middle and the Bulldog second baseball misplayed it, allowing Moritz to take third. Zach Kuchmaner followed by driving a fly ball to deep left field to score Moritz and put UNCG up 2-0.
Samford cut the lead in half in the second inning. With two outs, Max Pinto singled and moved up on an Anthony Mulrine single. Taylor Garris followed with a single of his own to drive in Samford’s first run.
UNCG responded in the bottom of the frame. Shelton one-hopped the fence in center field for his fifth double of the year and came around to score when Webster singled to center to give UNCG its two-run cushion.
The Bulldogs answered in the top of the fourth inning, pushing across a run to cut their deficit back to one. Ayrton Schafer singled and stole second before a grounder off the bat of Mulrine was misplayed, allowing Schafer to score from second and trim the lead to 3-2.
The Spartans doubled their score in the bottom of the sixth inning. Shelton started the inning by getting hit by a pitch, before the Samford pitcher misplayed a sacrifice bunt from Madole. Embler loaded the bases with a bunt single and Samford went to the bullpen. Webster greeted the new pitcher by driving an 0-2 pitch back up the middle to score two and move Embler to third. Moritz drove in the third run of the inning by reaching on a fielder’s choice and UNCG went up 6-2.
UNCG added a run in the bottom of the eighth inning. Webster led off by getting by a pitch and came around to score when Dillon Stewart singled through the right side on a hit and run to go up 7-2.
The Spartans look to complete the sweep of Samford tomorrow afternoon at the UNCG Baseball Stadium at 1 p.m.