GREENVILLE, S.C. – After surviving two elimination games the last two days, UNCG baseball couldn’t find the magic it needed to keep its Southern Conference Tournament Championship dreams alive Saturday evening. The Spartans fell 8-4 to the Western Carolina Catamounts in an elimination game of the Southern Conference Tournament presented by Holston Gases. The Spartans pushed across runs in the second, third, fourth and fifth innings, but the Catamounts answered each Spartan rally. UNCG is eliminated from the tournament and falls to 39-15 on the season.
“I am very proud of our team.” Head coach Link Jarrett said, “These guys represented our program at the highest level on the field and in the classroom. The leadership qualities of our seniors are second to none. They truly raised the bar in every facet of what they are expected to do within our program. This week did not play out properly for us, but the seniors can always look back at what they built with two championships and countless honors and awards. Their footprint will forever be etched in our program’s history and the significance of that is immeasurable.”
Matt Frisbee started his second game of the tournament on the hill Saturday night. The junior went 3.0 innings, allowing six hits, four earned runs and struck out four. Bryce Hensley made his first relief appearance of the season, going 3.1 innings, allowing four hits, two earned runs and struck out three. Jack Maynard was next out of the bullpen, throwing the final 1.2 innings, allowing three hits, two earned runs and struck out three.
The Spartan offense recorded nine hits, led by a 3-for-5 game from Caleb Webster. Webster added a home run and a pair of singles to finish with two RBI and a run scored. Austin Embler, Dillon Stewart, Tripp Shelton, Zach Kuchmaner, Ryan Clinch and Cesar Trejo all finished with one hit. Andrew Moritz drew a walk and has reached base in a school-record 47-consecutive games.
The Spartans broke open the scoreless game in the top of the second inning. Shelton led off with a single to shallow center field before advancing to second on a balk. Trejo dropped a two-out single to right field to bring Shelton in and put UNCG up, 1-0.
Western Carolina tied the game up the next half inning. Justin Sparks singled and moved to third on a Matthew Koehler single. Another single form Caleb Robinson brought in the tying run.
UNCG regained the lead in the top of the third inning thanks to a solo home run from Webster, his third of the year.
The Catamounts responded in their half of the third inning, taking the lead after scoring three runs. A lead off single from Will Prater and a Spencer Holcomb hit by pitch put two on. A sacrifice bunt moved them over and Cameron Blaquiere doubled to left center to drive them in. Sparks followed with a single to bring in Blaquiere to extend the lead to 4-2.
The Spartans got a run back in the top of the fourth inning. A lead off walk, a hit batter and a walk loaded the bases. A wild pitch brought a run in, but UNCG stranded the bases loaded.
Western Carolina regained its two-run cushion in the bottom of the fourth on a lead off home run from Robinson.
UNCG cut the lead back to one after the fifth inning. Embler led off with a double and came around to score on a Webster single.
After a scoreless sixth inning, Western Carolina scored two more in the bottom of the seventh inning on a single from Sparks. A Bryson Parks solo home run in the bottom of the eighth extended the Western Carolina lead out to 8-4.
Webster singled in the ninth, but UNCG couldn’t mount the rally needed to each the come-from-behind victory.