GREENSBORO, N.C. – UNCG baseball completed its first-ever sweep of the Mercer Bears Monday afternoon at the UNCG Baseball Stadium. Junior pitcher Jake Lewis threw a career-high 6.0 innings to earn his first quality start as the Spartans defeated the Bears, 7-1. UNCG improves to 34-11 and 15-3 in Southern Conference play. Mercer falls to 31-18 and 10-11 in SoCon play.
Lewis worked 6.0 innings, scattering four hits, walking one and striking out three, allowing an unearned run. Jack Maynard came on for the seventh, surrendering two hits but picked up a strikeout to hold Mercer. Andrew Wantz closed the door in the eighth and ninth innings, scatting a pair of hits and striking out four hitters.
“We got a really great start from (Jake) Lewis today.” Head coach Link Jarrett said, “He really got us into that game, he commanded his pitches well and gave us a shot. We had our bullpen set up well and we were able to turn it over to Jack (Maynard) and (Andrew) Wantz and those guys were able to do what they’ve done all year. Our starting pitching was a key factor in being able to take the series from a deep and talented Mercer team. Defensively, we made enough plays to help out our pitching.”
Caleb Webster led a Spartan offense that recorded 14 hits in the contest. Webster finished 4-for-5 with a run scored and a double. Tripp Shelton added a 3-for-3 game and drove in a run. Austin Embler and Ryan Clinch each finished 2-for-4 with Embler driving in a run and scoring twice with Clinch scoring a run. Andrew Moritz added a hit in the game but drove in a game-high three runs and scored once.
“Mercer’s pitching staff has a lot of variety and they pitch to your personnel.” Jarrett continued, “Our personnel did a good job of figuring out ways to be creative and score. Offensively, we did a lot of good things. Our hit and runs were key today. We had a couple guys with really nice days, (Caleb) Webster had four hits, (Tripp) Shelton had three and (Andrew) Moritz had a couple key RBI. There were some very timely hits, it wasn’t a dominant hit balls out of the park kind of day, but you have to have enough weapons in that offensive bag to find ways to create on days like this. I’m proud of the way we played.”
After facing the minimum in the top of the first inning, UNCG jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the frame. Embler led off with a walk and went first to third on a Webster single to right field. Moritz hit a fielder’s choice to the shortstop to drive in Embler before coming around to score after Shelton singled to left field to put the Spartans up.
Mercer cut the Spartan lead in half in the top of the third inning. With two outs, at two-base error allowed Alex Hanson to take second base before an RBI double from RJ Yeager brought him in to trim the lead to 2-1.
UNCG regained its two-run cushion in the bottom of the fourth inning. Cesar Trejo led off with a single and advanced to third after a single from Shelton. Clinch followed with a single of his own to drive in another and put the Spartans up 3-1.
The Spartans tacked on solo runs in the bottom of the fifth and seventh innings to extend the lead. Webster doubled to start the fifth inning and came around to score on a single from Moritz. Another one out rally in the seventh added another run. Embler singled and went first to third on a Webster single. Moritz drove a chopper to the right side to plate the run and give UNCG the 5-1 lead.
UNCG continued to tack on late, scoring a pair of runs in the bottom of the eighth inning. With runners on first and second, Josh Madole chopped a single up the middle to drive in a run before Embler shot a double past the Mercer third baseman to drive in another and give UNCG the 7-1 advantage.
The Spartans are back in action tomorrow evening as they take on the Winthrop Eagles at 6 p.m. at the UNCG Baseball Stadium.