GREENSBORO, N.C. – The UNCG baseball team maintained its perfect mark at home with a doubleheader sweep of Princeton on Sunday, March 10, by winning the first game 6-2 and the second game by a 5-3 margin, as the Spartans completed the series sweep in the process.
The first game of the afternoon was a pitcher’s duel over the first three innings, as UNCG’s Jeremiah Triplett and Princeton’s Andrew Gnazzo held the opposing lineup without a hit. The Tigers broke through with a hit in the top of the fourth, while UNCG came through with two in the bottom of the frame.
The Spartans offense got rolling in the fifth when Mike Ferrara and Zach Kuchmaner reached base ahead of Coleman Sawyer, who delivered a hit that scored Ferrara from second for the 1-0 advantage. Sawyer moved to second on a wild pitch, which was followed by a single to centerfield by Jacquez Koonce that pushed the UNCG lead to 2-0.
After holding the Tigers hitless in the top of the sixth, UNCG’s offense put three more runs on the board in the home half of the inning. It began when Caleb Webster reached on a single to short, moving to second on a throwing error. Ryan Caveness followed with a single up the middle, putting runners on the corners. Josh Madole drove a single through the left side of the infield, plating Webster for the third run of the game.
Ferrara continued the UNCG sixth by reaching on a fielder’s choice that got Caveness at third. Kuchmaner roped a one-out single to third, loading the bases for Sawyer. A passed ball with Sawyer at bat plated Madole for the fourth UNCG run of the day and second of the inning. With two outs in the inning, after Ferrara was out on a play at the plate, Kuchmaner scored from third on a passed ball to give the Spartans a 5-0 advantage.
Princeton managed to get two runs back in the top of the seventh when Alex Dickinson drove a two-run home run over the left-centerfield wall. UNCG got one of those runs back in the bottom of the inning when Madole drove a single into right field, scoring Webster from second base after the junior standout reached on a single to third for his second hit of the game.
Triplett moved to 2-0 on the season with the win on the mound. He logged six innings, allowed two hits and struck out eight Tiger batters. Gnazzo took the loss, dropping to 1-1, after allowing four runs, four walks and nine hits while striking out seven UNCG hitters. Chad Sykes closed out the game on the mound for UNCG, facing seven Tiger hitters over the final two innings, striking out two along the way.
“Triplett gave us a quality start today,” said UNCG head coach Link Jarrett. “Good mix of his stuff and pitched with great poise. Their starting pitcher also did a nice job, fortunately our bunting game and Sawyer’s slash allowed us to begin to create offensively. Madole also had a key basehit and we had to really dig deep offensively to figure out ways to score. Sykes handled the end of the game and it was a good hard-fought win.”
Three UNCG hitters finished with multiple hits, including Webster (2-4, 2 runs), Madole (2-4, 2 RBI, run) and Kuchmaner (2-3, run) as the Spartans tallied 11 hits as a unit.
GAME 2: UNCG 5, PRINCETON 3 (7 INNINGS)
The two teams completed the four-game series with a seven-inning game that helped UNCG maintain its perfect 9-0 mark at home.
The Spartans (10-4) scored all five runs in the second inning, which came as a result of five hits. Josh Madole started the process when he was hit by a pitch, moving to second a sacrifice bunt by Jacquez Koonce. David Flores grounded out to short, scoring Madole from third, providing UNCG with the 1-0 lead. Hogan Windish reached on a fielder’s choice that put runners on the corners, which was followed by a single down the left field line by Greg Hardison that scored Coleman Sawyer for the second UNCG run.
Austin Embler continued the offensive onslaught for the Spartans, loading the bases for Caleb Webster. With Webster at the plate a wild pitch by Reece Rabin allowed Windish to score from third for the 3-0 UNCG advantage. Webster followed with a bases-clearing double to right field, scoring Embler and Hardison as the lead grew to 5-0.
Princeton (1-6) retaliated in the top of the fourth, scoring its first run of the game on a bases loaded grounder by Max West. Teammate Joseph Flynn recorded the second run on a wild pitch by Colin Best, slicing the Spartan lead to 5-2.
The Tigers tacked on their final run of the game in the seventh after Nadir Lewis reached on a two-out double to left field. Flynn dropped a single to left, scoring Lewis in the process, before moving to second on a single up the middle by David Harding. The Spartans defense converted the final out with a fly ball to right field, ending the threat.
Freshman Austin Koehn, who pitched 3.2 innings of relief, earned the first victory of his collegiate career after holding the Tigers to one run on three hits, while striking out four. He came in relief of Best, who worked 3.1 innings, allowed one hit, two runs and four walks while striking out two.
The Spartans were led offensively by Embler (2-3, run), Webster (2-2, 2 RBI) and Koonce (2-2). Greg Hardison emerged with an RBI, after going 1-for-4 from the plate and teammate David Flores also emerged with an RBI.
“Best threw three good innings and his third inning was great, especially after we scored five runs,” added Jarrett. “We were hoping he could settle in and continue to extend his outing, but Koehn came in and finished the game nicely. Windish made a few very nice plays at third in his first start there, especially the diving play down the line with the bases loaded. Hardison also made a very key catch in left. Again, our guys executed our bunting concepts well, which allowed us to pressure them and create some offense. Webster had a very key double that drove in two runs. I am very proud of our team for battling through the weekend to win 4 games against an experienced well coached team.”