GREENSBORO, N.C. – UNCG overcame a two-run deficit in the bottom of the eighth inning by scoring three runs, earning its 10th home victory by downing Elon 4-3 at the UNCG Baseball Stadium on Tuesday, March 12.
Trailing 3-1, UNCG (11-4) opened the eighth by getting Josh Madole on base via a hit by pitch. Jacquez Koonce followed with a bunt single, moving Madole into scoring position, before Zach Kuchmaner drew a walk to load the bases for the Spartans with no outs. With designated hitter David Flores at the plate, a wild pitch by Jared Weatherbee brought home Koonce for the second Spartans run of the contest.
Flores lifted a sacrifice fly to right field, plating Koonce for the game-tying run. Greg Hardison kept the inning alive, while at the same time providing UNCG the lead, with a single through the left side of the infield to score Kuchmaner from third for the 4-3 lead.
Elon made an attempt to get the run back in the top of the ninth, as Tyler Stanley reached and stole second, but Brandon Stephens slammed the door as he got Garett Stonehouse to strike out and two outs in the field to preserve the one-run victory.
The Spartans finished with nine hits on the game, including two each from Greg Hardison (2-5, RBI, run) and Jacquez Koonce (2-4, run). Jake Mayhew (1-0) picked up the win for UNCG after tossing a perfect eighth where he struck out one Phoenix hitter. Stephens came on in relief to earn his second save of the campaign after recording one strikeout and facing three batters.
“Austin Parsley gave us a decent start today,” said UNCG head coach Link Jarrett. “He knows that that if he was a little sharper that was his for the taking, but he couldn’t get out of the fourth inning. It was enough to get us in the game and sometimes that is what your starting pitcher needs to do. Corey Jackson also did a nice job, three innings of relief and then for Brandon (Stephens) to come in and shut it down. Essentially, he threw an inning, but it was not the way that you draw up an inning because he had to navigate.”
UNCG tallied the first run of the game in the home half of the first as Hardison began the frame with a single left field, advancing to second on a fielding error in right. Hardison moved to third on a failed pickoff attempt, scoring on a grounder to third by Caleb Webster.
Elon put together a three-run inning in the fourth, capitalizing on two hits. Cam Devanney opened with a single to left and Anthony Galason reached on a hit by pitch. Two batters later, Jarrett Pico singled through the right side of the infield to bring Devanney home. The second run for the Phoenix came home on a walk of Stonehouse and Pico trotted home to tally the third run of the game on a wild pitch.
“Hardison had a really good game and to lead off the game the way he did that was important,” added Jarrett. “He led off the game with a hit and to take the extra base was really important. Hardison’s base hit off the lefty late in the game, who has really good velocity coming out of the pen, was an important moment for us. Jacquez played well and made a really good catch against the left centerfield wall. His bunting game was good again, especially with the two-strike base hit. That’s a good win for the team because it wasn’t evolving into a good offensive game for us, but the characteristic that I like about this team, which is ultimately the most important, is that they are finding ways to win games when things aren’t quite as you draw them up. Very proud of the way they played and that is a good win against a good team.”