KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – Dillon Stewart (Coats, N.C./Brunswick CC) hit two solo home runs as UNCG baseball defeated the Tennessee Volunteers, 3-2 Sunday afternoon. The Spartans were tied 1-1 before Stewart’s first home run and needed the second as insurance as Tennessee hit a solo shot of its own in the bottom of the ninth inning. UNCG improves to 4-3 on the season, while Tennessee falls to 4-3.
Stewart and Austin Embler (Southern Pines, N.C./Pinecrest) led the Spartan offense with 2-for-4 performances. Embler finished with a single, a double and scored once, while Stewart connected on his second and third home runs of the season. Andrew Moritz (Charlotte, N.C./Providence) added an RBI sacrifice fly in the win.
Trey Kissack (Grand Island, Neb./Southeast CC) made his second start of the season on the bump. Kissack went 2.1 innings, allowed two hits and a run before giving way to Jack Maynard (Crozet, Va./Patrick Henry CC). Maynard got out of a bases loaded jam, allowing just one inherited runner to score. Maynard tossed 2.2 innings; scattering three hits and struck out a batter.
Dan Loats (Eden Prairie, Minn./NIACC) made his season debut in relief of Maynard to start the sixth inning. Loats went 1.1 innings, scattering a pair of hits and striking out a batter. Andrew Wantz (Holly Springs, N.C./Holly Springs) closed out the final 2.2 innings, allowing just one hit and struck out five batters as he earned his first save of the season.
“That was a great Sunday performance.” Head coach Link Jarrett said, “Dillon Stewart really had a great approach at the plate late in the game, to drive to balls out of here. The wind was really beating everything down almost all weekend. To drive that ball the other way through the wind for a home run, then to hit one to left center field in these conditions was impressive. That shows you the capability he has.
“(Jack) Maynard out of the bullpen was very effective.” Jarrett continued, “It was great to have (Dan) Loats after what he’s been through to come out here and get his first appearance in this setting, I’m so happy for him. (Andrew) Wantz had the ability at the end to dial it up another notch and his fastball feel and the life on the fastball, combine that with his secondary pitches, he was able to punch out five people. That’s a really good Sunday win. We didn’t play our best Friday or Saturday, but with your backs against the wall, to play this type of game is a good sign for our team.”
The Spartans got on the board quickly, scoring in the top of the first. Embler tucked a double just inside the left field foul line and moved to third on a Caleb Webster (Randleman, N.C//Randleman) sacrifice bunt. Moritz followed and lifted a fly ball to deep left field where it was caught but allowed Embler to score and put UNCG up 1-0.
Tennessee tied the game up in the bottom of the third inning. After lead off singles from Zach Daniels and Jay Charleston, a one-out walk loaded the bases. After a pitching change, Maynard got a fly ball to left and Stewart made a diving play, but the runner from third scored. Another fly ball to left ended the threat as the Volunteers tied it up 1-1.
Stewart single handedly put UNCG back in front and extended the lead with a pair of solo homers. Stewart took the Tennessee pitcher out to right field for an opposite field shot for his first in the sixth inning, before hitting a more conventional solo blast to left center in the eighth to give UNCG a 3-1 lead.
Tennessee cut into the lead with a solo homer in the bottom of the ninth, but Wantz closed the game out with three punch outs to earn the save.
UNCG is back in actin Wednesday as it heads to Winston-Salem for a matchup with the Wake Forest Demon Deacons at 4 p.m. at David F. Couch Ballpark.