Top 10 Moments Of 2016-17: No. 3 — Baseball Earns First-Ever SoCon Tournament; Advance to NCAA Clemson Regional
GREENSBORO, N.C. – As we wrap up the 2016-17 athletic year for the UNCG Spartans, we are taking a moment to look back at everything Spartan student-athletes, coaches and teams accomplished during the successful campaign. Overall, the Spartans won three Southern Conference championships, appeared in three postseason tournaments and posted the highest GPA across the board in the athletic department in program history during the 2016-17 campaign.
UNCGspartans.com has identified the top 10 moments from 2016-17 and will be counting down the memories over the next two weeks. Moments No. 10-6 will be released July 10-14 while moments No. 5-1 will be released July 17-21.
The No. 3 moment happened at the end of May when the UNCG baseball team won its first-ever Southern Conference Tournament title and continued into June when the Spartans advanced to the NCAA Clemson Regional.
Baseball Wins SoCon Tournament Title, Heads To NCAA Clemson Regional
GREENSBORO, N.C. – The UNCG baseball team defeated the Furman Paladins, 13-1 in seven innings to take the program's first-ever Southern Conference Tournament title. UNCG advanced to the NCAA Regional, hosted by Clemson University. This is the third NCAA Tournament appearance for the Spartans, and the first since the 1997 season.
After falling in game one of the SoCon Championship, the Spartans came back and handily defeated Furman in the winner-take-all championship game. The Spartans rode a strong performance by sophomore southpaw Jake Lewis (Wendell, N.C./Corinth Holders). Lewis made his fourth start of the season, tying a career-long 5.1 innings, allowing four hits, none for extra bases, one earned run and struck out four batters. Dan Loats (Eden Prairie, Minn./NIACC) came on in the sixth inning with UNCG leading, 4-1 and earned the save after holding Furman scoreless over the final 1.2 innings.
The Spartans scored nine runs in the top of the seventh inning, with Ryne Sigmon (Danville, Va./Danville CC) leading off with his second home run of the game. The Blue and Gold took advantage of two Furman errors and six free passes to take the commanding lead before Loats closed out the contest in the top of the seventh.
The Spartans finished the SoCon Tournament, 4-1, outscoring opponents 41-22 in the five games. Jack Maynard (Crozet, Va./Patrick Henry CC), Michael Goss (Cartersville, Ga./Chattanooga St. CC), Tripp Shelton (Winston-Salem, N.C./West Forsyth), Caleb Webster (Randleman, N.C./Randleman) and Ben Spitznagel (Cincinnati, Ohio/Wabash Valley CC) earned SoCon All-Tournament team. Shelton earned the Walt Nadzak Most Outstanding Player award, and sophomore Zach Kuchmaner (Charlotte, N.C./Marvin Ridge) took home the Pinnacle award, given to the player with the highest GPA on the winning team.
UNCG opened up its first NCAA Regional action against the host Clemson Tigers. The Regional was the third time the Spartans have made the NCAA Tournament, twice having played in the NCAA Baton Rouge Regionals in 1994 and 1997 after winning the Big South Tournament. It was the first-ever meetings between the Spartans and Tigers, and the second time UNCG faced the St. John's Red Storm.
In the opener against No. 15 Clemson, the Spartans hit three home runs, led by Cesar Trejo's (Greensboro, N.C./Ragsdale) two. Webster hit his first home run of the season in the loss, with Goss driving in a run in the 5-4 loss. After leading 1-0, Clemson rallied to score four runs in the fifth and added an insurance run that proved to be the difference in the bottom of the eighth inning.
Spartan baseball eliminated No. 23 St. John's in the second matchup of the Clemson Regional, 3-1. Matt Frisbee (Candler, N.C./Enka) worked 6.0 shutout innings, allowing just three hits and struck out two batters earning his eighth win of the season. Andrew Wantz (Holly Springs, N.C./Holly Springs) tossed the final 3.0 innings, giving up a run and striking out two hitters. At the plate, six Spartans notched a hit, with Spitznagel scoring a run and driving another in. Goss and Webster each drove in a run, with Shelton and Austin Embler (Southern Pines, N.C./Pinecrest) scoring. Goss's RBI came at a critical time, driving in Shelton on a double to left center to put UNCG up, 3-1 in the eighth inning, helping UNCG eliminate the Red Storm.
UNCG was eliminated by the host Tigers in the third game of the Regional, 6-3. Loats started on the mound, going 6.1 innings, striking out four hitters. Bryce Hensley (Asheville, N.C./Catawba Valley CC) made his first relief appearance of the season, striking out a hitter in 0.2 innings. Lewis worked the final 2.0 innings, scattering two hits. The Spartan offense collected six hits off the Clemson pitching staff. Spitznagel and Andrew Moritz (Charlotte, N.C./Providence) each tallied a pair of hits and an RBI, with Spitznagel scoring a run. Sigmon went 1-for-4 with a run scored and Goss drove in a run.
Having defeated St. John's, UNCG has won at least one game in every NCAA Regional it has been a part of.
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