Spartans Rally to Take the Lead Late But Fall in the 10th to VMI 8-7
Lexington, Va. – Trailing VMI by as many as five runs, UNCG scored six runs in the eighth and ninth to force extra innings on Saturday night. The rally fell short as the Keydets clinched the series on a walk-off error in the 10th.
“Really tough loss,' said UNCG head coach Link Jarrett. “The guys fought no doubt they fought their way back. To score six runs the way the game was going offensively to score six runs in the eighth and ninth inning is impressive.”
In the six-run rally in the eighth and ninth sophomore Austin Embler drove in 3-runs including the go-ahead RBI in the ninth. Embler finished the day 3-for-5 with three RBI, which marked the seventh multiple RBI day for the second baseman. The three hits tallied by Embler increased his multiple hit game total to 21 on the year.
Caleb Webster (Randleman, N.C./Randleman HS) also finished with a multiple hit (2-for-5) and RBI day for the Spartans as well. The reshman recorded his 21st multiple hit day to match Embler for the second most on the team.
Sophomore pitcher Matt Frisbee (Candler, N.C./Enka) earned the start for UNCG and went 5.0 innings, gave up five earned runs, on nine hits and struckout five Keydets in a no decision.
VMI countered with junior right-handed pitcher Brandon Barbery, the Keydets starter tossed 7.0 innings of one run ball. Barbery finished the evening allowing six hits, two walks, struckout four Spartans and did not factor into the decision.
“They pitched well and VMI has really outplayed us so far and hopefully we can come out tomorrow and play a little bit cleaner in some areas.,” said Jarrett.
The Keydets scored in first for the second consecutive game in the series. A pair of walks from Jacob Jaye and Peyton Maddox set the table for Friday's hero Tyler Tharp. The left-handed hitter cashed in driving an RBI-single through the right side to bring home Jaye. A flyout and a groundout got Frisbee out of the frame, but the Keydets led 1-0 after the first.
Sophomore Cesar Trejo (Greensboro, N.C./Ragsdale) drew a walk to leadoff the fourth frame and advanced to second on a Michael Goss (Cartersville, Ga./Chattanooga State) groundout. Webster drove in Trejo with an RBI-single to left-centerfield to even the score, 1-1.
The hosts responded with a four run bottom half of the fourth. VMI's Matt Dunlevy and Michael Diodato each produced RBI-singles in the rally. Jacob Jaye completed the four-run inning with a two-run homer to left field, and extended the Keydets lead out to 6-1.
“Some 0-2 and 1-2 base hits they had early changed the dynamic of the game and allowed them to open up the lead and they scored a run on a wild pitch later in the game and all of those things catchup to you,” Jarrett said.
Down five runs in eighth the Spartans comeback began, Andrew Moritz (Charlotte, N.C./Providence) jumpstarted the rally with a double into shallow centerfield. Webster then roped an RBI-double to left field to drive in Moritz. Webster then advanced to third on a balk, Austin Embler converted the scoring situation with an RBI-single through the right side that closed the gap to three, 6-3.
The Spartans continued the rally in the ninth, beginning with a Spitznagel single to centerfield. A Tripp Shelton (Winston-Salem, N.C./West Forsyth) walk put runners on at first and second with no outs. Moritz capitalized with a double to right-center to score Spitznagel and advance Shelton to third. Trejo slashed a sacrifice fly to right field to bring in Shelton and close the VMI lead to one, 6-5.
With Moritz and Ryne Sigmon (Danville, Va./Danville Community College) on at first and second and two outs Embler laced a bloop 2-RBI single to left field to give the Spartans their first lead of the day, 7-6.
The UNCG lead was short-lived as Collin Fleischer hit the first pitch he saw out of the park to lead off the inning to tie the game at 7-7.
VMI won it in the 10th on a walk-off error to take the series.
“I was proud of the way the guys fought we just weren't clean enough to get that thing done,” said Jarrett.
The two teams will conclude the series tomorrow at Gray-Minor Stadium, with first pitch slated for 2 p.m. ESPN3 will carry the contest live online.