GREENVILLE, S.C. – After an unscheduled weekend off, UNCG baseball came out of the gates rusty in the first game of the Southern Conference Tournament, presented by Holston Gases. The Spartans dropped the first round game to the Western Carolina Catamounts, 10-2. The Spartans will now play the VMI Keydets at 9 a.m. Thursday morning at Fluor Field in the consolation bracket. Winner moves on to play at 7 p.m. Friday night; the loser of the UNCG-VMI game will be eliminated from the SoCon Tournament.
“We were not crisp in any phase of the game.” Head coach Link Jarrett said, “Our defense has been a strength of our team, however it was obviously not today. (Taylor) Purus (Western Carolina) commanded his fastball to both sides of the plate and used his breaking ball effectively. Their centerfielder made two exceptional catches on very well hit balls. Hopefully we got this out of our system. We have a good team, but we did not play a sound game today. (Matt) Frisbee has pitched so many big games for us, he wasn’t as sharp as he normally is and we did not help him defensively when we needed to. (Andrew) Moritz had good at bats and it was nice to see him drive one out.”
Matt Frisbee started on the hill. The junior tied his shortest outing of the season, throwing 4.2 innings, allowing eight hits, six runs; four earned and struck out five hitters. Jack Maynard was the first pitcher out of the bullpen. The senior went 2.1 innings, allowing five hits, three earned runs, walked one and struck out three. Easton Welch tossed the eighth inning, allowing an unearned run to score. Jeremiah Triplett pitched the ninth, working a three up, three down inning with three groundouts.
The normally noisy Spartan offense was quiet in Wednesday afternoon’s game. UNCG managed just six hits, led by a 3-for-4 performance from Andrew Moritz. Moritz finished with two singlesand hit his sixth home run of the year. Austin Embler finished 1-for-4 with an RBI, Caleb Webster added a hit with Josh Madole going 1-for-4 with a double and scored a run.
The Catamounts jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the top of the second inning. Justin Sparks led off the frame with a solo home run, his first of the season. Matthew Koehler followed with a double and came around to score on a Caleb Robinson single to go up early.
Western Carolina capitalized on a couple Spartan miscues to extend its lead in the fourth inning. Sparks led off with a single before an error on a fielder’s choice put runners at the corners. Robinson followed with a double off the left center field wall to score two. Bryson Parks added a single to drive in a run before a sacrifice fly drove in another to put the Catamounts up, 6-0.
The Spartans got on the board in the bottom of the sixth inning thanks to a solo home run from the SoCon’s Player of the Year, Moritz to cut the lead to 6-1.
The Catamounts responded in the top of the seventh inning, pushing across three runs. Justice Bigbie started the rally with a one-out double and scored on a single from Sparks. Koehler doubled to put two in scoring position for Parks who singled to put Western Carolina up, 9-1.
UNCG showed some life in the bottom of the seventh. Madole connected on a two-out double to right center before scoring on an Embler single to left field to cut the lead to 9-2.
Western Carolina tacked on a run again in the top of the eighth. After Spencer Holcomb reached on an infield hit and moved to second on an error. A ground out moved him to third and a Cameron Blaquiere sac fly extended the lead back to 10-2.
The Spartans are back in action tomorrow morning at 9 a.m. against the VMI Keydets in the consolation bracket of the tournament.