ELON, N.C. – Facing an 8-1 deficit after five complete innings, the UNCG baseball team took advantage of seven hits to score eight runs and complete its biggest rally of the season as the Spartans downed Elon 9-8 on Tuesday evening at Latham Park.
UNCG, which improved to 23-15 on the season and 4-9 on the road, had five batters enjoy multi-hit performances. Among them included Greg Hardison (2-4, RBI, run), Caleb Webster (2-5, 2 runs), Ryan Caveness (2-5, 3 RBI, 2 runs), Zach Kuchmaner (3-3, 2 RBI) and Jacquez Koonce (2-4, 1 run, triple). The Spartans, who finished with 13 hits, have now reached double figure hits in 15 games this season.
Hardison, who returned to the UNCG lineup after missing the last 14 games due to an injury, opened the game with a single to right to extend his hitting streak to 12 games. The big difference offensively for the Spartans came from the middle of the lineup, as the 4-5-6 hitters accounted for six hits and five RBI.
Inheriting an 8-4 deficit, UNCG’s Chad Sykes (5-3) took over on the mound in the sixth. He would work the remainder of the game for the Spartans, facing 11 Elon batters in the process, allowing one hit and one walk while striking out a pair of Phoenix hitters to earn his team-leading fifth win of the season.
UNCG had its first multi-run inning in the top of the sixth when Webster reached on a single up the middle. Josh Madole followed with a single through the right side and Caveness plated the second run of the game with an RBI single to third that scored Webster. Kuchmaner delivered a single to centerfield, allowing both Caveness and Madole to cross the plate as UNCG sliced the margin to 8-4.
The second multi-run inning by the Spartans came in the seventh when they tallied four runs on two hits. With the bases load, following an error, walk and a Webster single, Caveness came through with a single up the middle that scored Webster and Hardison. With David Flores at the plate, Madole scored on a wild pitch and Caveness came home on a failed pickoff attempt to pull the Spartans even at eight-all.
UNCG took the lead in the top of the eighth when freshman Jacquez Koonce led off the inning with a triple into centerfield. Two batters later, Hardison scored Koonce from third on a sacrifice fly to centerfield, providing UNCG the 9-8 advantage.
Elon capitalized on two hits in the first inning to put four runs across the plate. The first of those hits was by Cam Devanney, who scored Anthony Galason from second for the 1-0 advantage. Two batters later, with runners on first and second for the Phoenix, Ty Adcock lifted a three-run home run over the centerfield wall for the 4-0 lead.
The Phoenix stretched their lead to 5-0 in the second when an errant throw allowed Tyler Cranston to move home from third. UNCG got a run back in the top of the third, taking advantage of a leadoff single by Zack Budzik, who motored to second on his third stolen base of the year. After Hardison’s second single of the game put Budzik at third, Austin Embler grounded into a double play that scored Budzik from 90-feet away.
The second multi-run inning for Elon came in the bottom of the fifth when the Phoenix put three runs across. Devanney got things started with a double down the left field line and Adcock added a single to centerfield, scoring Jarrett Pico. Adcock singled into centerfield, plating Devanney, before a single to third by Nick Cicci resulted in the 8-1 lead.
UNCG-ELON FAST FACTS
-Greg Hardison returns to the UNCG lineup after missing 14 games due to injury and responds with a single through the right side of the infield, extending his hitting streak to 12 games in the process.
-UNCG starter Maddux Holshouser, hurled 0.2 innings, allows four runs on two hits and surrenders one walk in his fourth start of the season.
-Twelve of the Spartans 13 hits in the game were singles. The lone extra-base hit came from Jacquez Koonce, who had a triple to lead off the eighth inning.
-While Elon leads the all-time series 38-18, UNCG has won five of the last six meetings between the two programs
-Chad Sykes has now recorded at least one strikeout in his last 56 appearances on the mound for UNCG.
-Austin Embler’s seven-game hitting streak came to a close with a 0-for-5 performance from the plate.
UNCG returns to action this weekend when the Spartans host The Citadel for a three-game Southern Conference series that begins on Friday, April 26th at 6 p.m.