GREENSBORO, N.C. – UNCG baseball couldn’t overcome an early deficit as it dropped the final home contest of the season Tuesday night at the UNCG Baseball Stadium. The Spartans rallied in the bottom of the ninth, but Elon got a out of the jam to improve to 32-21 on the season. UNCG falls to 37-13 on the season. UNCG and Elon split the season series with the visiting team winning in each contest.
Jake Mayhew started on the hill for the Spartans. The redshirt sophomore threw 2.2 innings, allowing just two hits and struck out one. He allowed five runs; three earned and walked five before giving way to Easton Welch. Welch tossed the next 2.1 innings, allowing five hits and one earned run and picked up a strikeout. Jack Maynard was next out of the bullpen. The senior threw an inning, striking out two of the three batters he faced.
“We created an obstacle early by giving up six runs.” Head coach Link Jarrett said, “We tried to overcome it, we got back into the game, but early on we weren’t sharp on the mound and our defense in some areas hurt us a bit. We were a little sloppy. Give them credit, they capitalized. We gave them extra chances and they made the most of it. (Andrew) Wantz threw well, (Jack) Maynard threw well, Easton (Welch), other than the initial sequence to try to get out of the jam, turned out all right. It wasn’t one of our better games, but we’ll shake it off.”
At the plate, UNCG had 10 hits, led by a 3-for-4 performance from Ryan Clinch. Clinch drove in a run and scored once. Zach Kuchmaner finished 1-for-3 with two RBI and scored a run and Caleb Webster added a 2-for-4 game with a home run, an RBI and scored a run.
“Our at bats weren’t as good early in the game. I thought we gave away some at bats. Later in the game it was better, (Caleb) Webster’s home run and (Andrew) Moritz had some good at bats. Overall, I felt like we got in some good counts to hit and we didn’t swing the bat like we did this past weekend. This is a frustrating loss, but it doesn’t diminish what we have done throughout this season. Its tough to come out here and feel like you didn’t play a quality game against a good team. After sitting through the rain, it turned out to be a good night to play but we weren’t sharp enough.”
Elon got on the board in the top of the second inning, scoring a pair of unearned runs. James Venuto led off with a walk and came around to score after a Spartan fielding error. A Zach Evers single drove in another run to put the Phoenix up 2-0.
The Phoenix added to their lead in the third inning. With two outs, a single and two walks loaded the bases before Ty Adcock dropped a single to center to score one. Josh Broughton drove in another with a single before another Evers single added the fourth run to put Elon up 6-0.
The Spartans got on the board in the bottom of the fifth inning. With runners on the corners, Josh Madole hit a sharp grounder to first where the Phoenix first baseman stepped on the base and threw to second to record the second out of the play, third of the inning. Zach Kuchmaner crossed the plate before the tag was applied to cut the lead to 6-1.
UNCG rallied to cut the lead down to one in the bottom of the sixth inning. With two outs, Moritz dropped a two-out single to center field and came around to score after Dillon Stewart hit a high fly ball to shallow right field where the right fielder misplayed it. Stewart moved to third after the throw home sailed over the catcher. Clinch followed with an RBI single before Tripp Shelton legged out an infield single. Kuchmaner drove a triple to the corner in right field line to cut the lead to 6-5, Phoenix.
The Phoenix got some insurance in the top of the seventh inning, with a pair of solo home runs from Adcock and Broughton to run the lead back to 8-5.
The Spartans rallied in the bottom of the ninth, but couldn’t complete the comeback. With one out, Ryan Caveness drew a pinch-hit walk to get the rally going. Greg Hardison pinch ran for Caveness, moving to up after Austin Embler drew a walk. After two wild pitches scored Hardison and put Embler on third, Webster drew another walk to put runners on the corners for Moritz. Moritz hammered a two-strike pitch the other way, but the Elon third baseman made a diving catch to his right and doubled up the runner at third to extinguish the rally and preserve the Elon win.
The Spartans return to the field Thursday night, as they will take on the Furman Paladins in Greenville in the last series of the regular season.