GREENSBORO, N.C. – Four Spartans homered as UNCG baseball started the 2018 season 1-0 after defeating the Appalachian State Mountaineers, 10-3 on Friday night at the UNCG Baseball Stadium. Half of UNCG’s runs came courtesy of the long ball, as Dillon Stewart (Coats, N.C./Brunswick CC), Ryan Clinch (Jamestown, N.C./Brunswick CC), Jake Kusz (Durham, N.C./Riverside) and Cesar Trejo (Greensboro, N.C./Ragsdale) were all able to drive the ball out of the park.
“(Matt) Frisbee gave us a good, quality, competitive start and he had good velocity on the fastball and got a lot of fly ball outs.” Head coach Link Jarrett said, “Our right fielder, Cesar (Trejo), played great, (Dillon) Stewart in left field made some really good plays. There were some pitches Frisbee would probably like to have back, but it was enough to keep us in the game against Vaccacio (App State), who is a very good left-handed pitcher. His fastball had some life and we weren’t on it. We were hitting a lot of fly balls, but the ability and the physicality of our guys to be able to drive some of those balls out of the park was a momentum swing in the game.
“(Tripp) Shelton’s at bat later on, Cesar’s (Trejo) at bat to drive in two late, (Dillon) Stewart’s ball in the corner, those were some really timely at bats that allowed us to open that up.” Jarrett continued, “Andrew Wantz held it in check and really gave us a shot of momentum on the mound and Easton (Welch) came in and was really clean in the ninth. It was a really good win and I’m proud of the way we played and hopefully we can continue to play like that.”
Matt Frisbee (Candler, N.C./Enka) got his first opening night start as the junior went 5.0 innings, allowing four hits, two earned runs and struck out six batters in a no-decision. Jake Lewis (Wendell, N.C./Corinth Holders) came in and two-thirds of an inning, allowing a hit, an earned run and struck out two batters.
Andrew Wantz (Holly Springs, N.C./Holly Springs) came in for Lewis where he got out of a jam and retired all seven batters he faced to earn the first win of the 2018 season. Easton Welch (Randleman, N.C./Gardner-Webb) came on in the ninth inning, retiring all three batters he faced, and got his brother Bailey Welch to fly out to center field to end the game. Bailey Welch is a freshman infielder for the Mountaineers.
At the plate, seven of nine starters collected hits in an 11-hit effort. Stewart went 2-for-4 with a home run, a double, an RBI and two runs scored in his return after missing most of 2017 due to injury. Kusz also sat out 2017 with an injury. He got the start as the designated hitter where he went 1-for-4 with a solo home run in the seventh inning.
The bottom of the order got the job done as Josh Madole (Hampstead, N.C./Topsail), Trejo and Clinch each went 2-for-4. Trejo turned in a four RBI performance to go with a home run and a double. Clinch added a single with his home run, two RBI and scored once. Madole had two singles and scored twice in the win.
App State got on the board first in the top of the fourth inning. Joel McDaniel singled into shallow right field and came around to score when Drew Beck lined a double to the gap in right center to put the Mountaineers up 1-0.
Stewart didn’t let the Mountaineer lead last long as he delivered his first home run of the season over the left field wall to knot the game up 1-1.
The tie wasn’t around long as Kendall McGowan drew a lead off walk in the top of the fifth. After moving to second on a fielder’s choice, McDaniel deliver with a ground-rule RBI double to left center to regain the lead at 2-1.
The Spartans used the long ball to respond in their half of the fifth as Clinch connected for his first homer of the season, tucking it in down the line in right to tie the game at 2-2.
App State answered again in the top of the sixth, taking advantage of a pair of two-out walks. McGowan looped a single to center field to score Jason Avers from second and give App State another one-run lead.
UNCG took its first lead of the game with a pair of long balls in the seventh inning. Kusz deposited the first pitch he saw of his at bats over the trees in left field to tie it up at 3-3. After Madole reached via an error, Trejo hammered his first homer of the season to left field to take the lead at 5-3.
The Spartans broke the game open in the bottom of the eighth, as they scored five runs. With one out, Moritz singled and Stewart hit a ground-rule double down the right field line to put runners in scoring position. Shelton followed with a single up the middle to drive in two. After a pitching change, Madole legged out an infield single to put runners on the corners and moved into scoring position on a passed ball. Trejo followed with a double into shallow left to score two more before Clinch looped a single to center to score Trejo to give UNCG the 10-3 lead.
Welch came on in the ninth inning, retiring the Mountaineers in order.
The Spartans and Mountaineers are back in action tomorrow at 2 p.m. at the UNCG Baseball Stadium.