GREENVILLE, S.C. – UNCG baseball will live to see another day as the Spartans defeated the Wofford Terriers 15-7 Friday night at Fluor Field in an elimination game in the Southern Conference Tournament presented by Holston Gases. The Spartan offense exploded for 17 hits, seven of which went for extra bases to improve to 39-14 on the season. Wofford’s year ends at 36-23. The Spartans advance to play Western Carolina in an elimination game at 3:30 tomorrow afternoon.
“That was a great win against a well-run program and a very good team.” Head coach Link Jarrett said, “We scored five in the third and the four that followed buy it didn’t feel like it was going to be enough today. Wofford has some experience in the middle of their lineup. They know what they do well and they have a distinct personality. They run the bases as well as any team I’ve coached against.”
Jake Lewis started on the mound for the Spartans. Lewis threw 2.2 innings, scattering five hits, four earned runs and picked up a strikeout before giving way to Easton Welch. Welch earned his fifth win of the season, tossing 3.1 innings, allowing four hits, two earned runs and struck out three. Andrew Wantz earned his team-leading 10th save. Throwing the final 3.0 innings, allowing just two hits and one earned run while striking out five.
“Jake Lewis wasn’t as sharp as he needs to be, but Easton (Welch) came in and was very effective.” Jarrett continued, “We had a plan for each of our pitchers and what they could do today and Easton maxed it out and did a great job of keeping the game in check. (Andrew) Wantz came in and did what he does and shut it down for the last three innings.”
UNCG racked up 17 hits in the victory with eight of nine starters with at least one hit and five had a multi-hit effort. Andrew Moritz led the team with a 4-for-5 performance with three RBI and scored three times. Austin Embler finished 3-for-4 with an RBI, scored three times, doubled and hit his second home run of the season. Tripp Shelton finished 2-for-5 with three RBI hit his team-leading eighth home run. Cesar Trejo added a 3-for-5 game with two RBI and scored once and hit his fifth home run. Dillon Stewart drove in three and scored once, going 1-for-4. All nine hitters scored at least one run, with Embler, Caleb Webster and Moritz scoring three times each.
“Austin Embler hitting the home run to put it back to a three-run lead was critical.” Jarrett said, “It gave our guys a little shot of momentum. We strung together several quality at bats that helped us blow that game open. Tripp Shelton’s home run early and Cesar (Trejo)’s home run were big. Our guys were locked in today and those extra base hits really helped us put that one away. I’m proud of the way we played, it was a great win.”
The Terriers took the first lead of the game in the bottom of the second inning when Colin Best led off the frame with a solo home run over the monster in left field.
UNCG rallied to score five run in the top of the third inning. Zach Kuchmaner led off with a ground ball that was misplayed, allowing him reach safely. A sacrifice bunt and a walk but two on before another Wofford miscue loaded the bases for Moritz. Moritz chopped a single over the third baseman’s head to score two before Tripp Shelton launched a three-run homer over the green monster in left field to go up 5-1.
Wofford again used the long ball to cut into the lead. After a Mack Nathanson single, McClain Bradley belted a two-run homer. Doubles from Andrew Orzel and Lawson Hill cut the lead down to 5-4, UNCG.
The Spartans added to their lead in the top of the fourth inning. Josh Madole singled and moved to third after Embler doubled off the wall in left center to put two in scoring position. Webster chopped a double down the third baseline to score two. Moritz followed with a single up the middle to score Webster before advancing to third after a failed pick off attempt. Dillon Stewart followed with a sacrifice fly to push the Spartans ahead 9-4.
The Terriers cut the lead down to two in the bottom of the seventh inning by virtue of Bradley’s second home run of the day, this a three-run shot to left field.
UNCG put the game away in the top of the ninth inning, scoring six runs. Embler led off with his second home run of the season, a solo shot to the opposite field. Webster reached via a hit by pitch before Moritz hit his fourth single of the day to put two on. Stewart connected on a double down the left field line to bring in two and advanced to third on a wild pitch. Ryan Clinch doubled to bring him in before Trejo provided the exclamation point with a two-run blast to left center to put UNCG up 15-7.
The Spartans are back in action tomorrow in an elimination game against the Western Carolina Catamounts at 3:30 p.m.