Baseball Takes Series at Wofford Behind Wantz's Career-High 10 Strikeouts
SPARTANBURG, S.C. – Senior reliever Andrew Wantz entered with a runner on with a 4-2 lead in the bottom of the fourth inning Sunday afternoon at Russell C. King Field. Wantz picked up his first strikeout to strand the runner and get out of the jam to keep the momentum on UNCG’s side. Wantz went on to punch out a career-best 10 hitters in 4.2 innings of work to earn his fifth win of the season as the Spartans took the series with a 9-2 victory. UNCG is sitting in first place in the Southern Conference standings with a 12-3 mark and is 31-11 overall. Wofford falls to 29-16 and 10-5 in league action, good for second in league play.
Junior Jake Lewis started on the hill for UNCG. The lefty threw 3.2 innings, allowing four hits, two runs, one earned and struck out two before giving way to Andrew Wantz. Wantz took control of a 4-2 game and struck out 10 of the 15 batters he faced, allowing one hit and exited one an out in the ninth inning. Jack Maynard came on and finished it up, getting a pair of groundouts on three pitches to secure the win.
The Spartan offense racked up 17 hits in the contest. The first five hitters of the order combined for 11 hits and all nine RBI. Andrew Moritz led the charge with a 3-for-4 performance with three RBI and scored a run. Tripp Shelton went deep for the third time in two days as he finished 2-for-5 with two RBI and a run scored. Caleb Webster added a 3-for-6 performance with two RBI and scored two runs. Josh Madole turned the lineup over by going 3-for-5 and scored twice as the nine-hole hitter.
“The guys came out today, and our pregame preparation was as good as I’ve ever seen anywhere I’ve been.” Head coach Link Jarrett said, “That’s set by the older guys and the way they wanted to prepare and work today. There was a certain feeling in that dugout that we were going to play a high-level game. That’s what we did today. It starts with your starting pitcher, and (Jake) Lewis got us into the game with a good start. I know he wanted to get us a little deeper, but with our bullpen in check, you’re not going to leave anything up for grabs, you’re going to go to the guys that have been successful out of the bullpen and try to snuff out any rallies. (Andrew) Wantz was phenomenal today. He came in and really settled that thing down, to punch out 10, he didn’t let Wofford get any momentum and really helped solidify that win down the stretch.”
“Tripp (Shelton) got us going with the home run.” Jarrett continued, “We had threatened in the first couple innings, but weren’t able to deliver. Caleb (Webster) made a really nice play to prevent a ball from going down the line and (Josh) Madole made a great catch in foul territory in the first inning that was really key in keeping the momentum on our side. In the fifth inning, we opened up our offensive playbook. We did a lot of little things that we work on that may not show up as you watch the game, but I was impressed with the way we executed. (Andrew) Wantz struck out the side in the fifth to keep the momentum in our dugout. We had a great dugout environment and I’m just really proud of the way we played this weekend. Especially after how tough Friday night was, the guys answered and delivered. Offensively, top to the bottom of the lineup, executed and had good at bats. I’m really proud of the way this turned out.”
After a Moritz walk put a runner on, Shelton barreled up the first pitch he saw and sent it to the trees beyond the left field fence to give UNCG a 2-0 lead in the third inning. The Spartans doubled their lead in the fourth inning. Madole led off with a single and moved up on an Austin Embler ground out. Caleb Webster drove a single to centerfield to drive in one and moved up on a wild pitch. Moritz drove him in with a single of his own and the Spartans had a 4-0 lead after three and a half innings.
Wofford cut the lead in half in its half of the fourth inning. After back-to-back one-out singles and a double steal, Brett Rodriguez chopped an infield hit to the shortstop, where it kicked away and allowed the second run to score to cut the lead to 4-2.
UNCG doubled up its score in the top of the fifth inning. Dillon Stewart started the frame by getting hit by a pitch before moving to third on a Madole single. Embler followed with a single of his won to drive in one before Webster singled to drive in another. Moritz chopped a pitch that died halfway to first base and used his speed to run out the infield single to score another and put Webster on third base. Cesar Trejo drove a deep fly ball to right to score Webster and put UNCG up, 8-2.
The Spartans tacked on another run in the top of the seventh inning. Embler led of with a single and moved up on a wild pitch. After a Webster single put runners on the corners, Moritz flew out to center field, deep enough to score Embler and put the Spartans up 9-2.
UNCG is back in action next Saturday as it hosts the Mercer Bears in a three-game series Saturday, Sunday and Monday at the UNCG Baseball Stadium. Sunday’s contest will be UNCG’s senior day in which all of the Spartans’ seniors will be honored prior to the game.