GREENSBORO, N.C. – UNCG baseball rebounded from an 8-5 loss in the first game of the doubleheader to take the series with the ETSU Buccaneers in decisive fashion. The Spartans scored seven runs in the bottom of the fifth inning as they earned a 12-3 win in the nightcap. In the win, junior Andrew Moritz tied and broke the school record for career triples as he tripled twice. The Spartans move to 26-9 on the season and 7-2 in Southern Conference play with the split. ETSU is now 18-14 and 5-7 in the SoCon.
“Andrew Moritz was a factor all weekend.” Head coach Link Jarrett said, “Defensively he made some beautiful catches in the outfield, and to break the triples record in about what equates to two and a half seasons after missing some time his freshman year, it says a lot about his skill and speed and ability to hit the baseball.”
Bryce Hensley started on the mound in game one. The senior tossed 6.0 innings, allowing seven hits, four runs, two earned, walked two and struck out six. Easton Welch was first out of the bullpen, tossing a third of an inning, allowing a hit, three runs, two earned and walked a batter. Andrew Wantz closed out the seventh, walking and striking out one hitter.
Every Spartan in the lineup had a base hit in the first game, led by a 2-for-4 performance from Tripp Shelton. Zach Kuchmaner hit his first career home run as he finished 1-for-3 with an RBI and scored a run. Senior Jake Kusz had a pinch-hit two-run homer in the ninth inning. Caleb Webster and Cesar Trejo each added a hit and drove in a run in the loss.
The second game saw junior Jake Lewis toe the rubber. Lewis worked 5.1 innings, allowing eight hits, three earned runs, walked four and struck out four before giving way to Jack Maynard. Maynard came on to throw the final 3.2 innings, allowing just one hit and striking out five hitters.
The top of the lineup did the job in game two. The one through three hitters went a combined 9-for-11 with nine RBI and six runs scored. Josh Madole turned the lineup over, going 2-for-4 with an RBI and two runs scored at the nine-spot in the lineup. Kuchmaner added a 2-for-4 performance and scored once.
“In the first game, their right-handed pitcher (Ryan) Simpler really pitched well.” Jarrett said, “He commanded everything and we never really could capitalize. Bryce (Hensley) didn’t have his command early, but pitched very effectively and gave us a chance to win. We didn’t play a sharp game, we didn’t defend like we normally do and it was tough loss. We battled back, but it was too little too late. Simpler has done that before and we’ve seen it, when he settles in, he can be really tough.”
“It wasn’t a good feeling after game one.” Jarrett continued, “(Jake) Lewis came out and pitched very similar to how he did in the conference tournament last season. He was able to utilize his changeup and navigated any trouble that he had along the way. Offensively, we finally settled in and strung together some good at bats and were able to implement some of our running game and squeezed to open it up. Maynard pitched very well. It was a good win. Good weekend, we didn’t play great in the second game of the series, but to come back and play the way we did in the final game, I’m proud of the guys.”
The Bucs jumped on UNCG right away in the top of the first inning. With two outs, Chris Cook singled and came around to score on a double down the right field line from Caleb Longley. Christian Bailey followed with a single to score Longley and put ETSU up 2-0.
Kuchmaner cut the lead in half with a solo home run to left field to lead off the bottom of the second.
ETSU got its two-run cushion back in the top of the third inning. A walk and a hit by pitch put the first two runners on before a chopper looked like it could be a double play. After recording the out at second base, the throw to first was high, Josh Madole made a leaping catch and tried to apply the tag, but the ball popped out of his glove allowing the runner to score from second.
The two teams went scoreless over the next three innings before ETSU broke the game open by scoring four runs in the top of the seventh inning to go up 7-1.
The Spartans cut the lead down to 7-3 after scoring two runs thanks to RBI singles from Webster and Trejo in the eighth inning. ETSU added a run in the top of the ninth to go up 8-3. Kusz hit a pinch-hit two-run homer in the bottom of the ninth to trim the lead to 8-5 but UNCG couldn’t complete the comeback in game one.
Game two saw UNCG jump out to a 1-0 lead in the first inning. Embler led off with a single and moved up on a Webster sacrifice bunt. Moritz singled to drive in the run to give UNCG its first lead of the day. The second inning saw Shelton draw a one-out walk to start the rally. With two outs, Madole singled to put two on. An Embler walk loaded the bases for Webster who singled back up the middle to score two. Moritz followed by lacing a triple down the right field line to score two and put UNCG up 5-0.
After going scoreless for two innings, UNCG drove in seven runs to take a commanding 12-0 lead. Dillon Stewart, Shelton, Madole, Embler, Webster and Moritz all had RBI hits in the inning, including Moritz’s second triple of the game, setting the new school record.
ETSU cut into the lead in the top of the sixth by virtue of a Hunter Parker two-run homer and an RBI single from Chris Cook to put the score at 12-3 UNCG.
The Spartans are back in action Tuesday as they host the Wake Forest Demon Deacons at 6 p.m. Tuesday is also 90s night at the UNCG Baseball Stadium.