Baseball Rally Falls Short Against Western Carolina
GREENSBORO, N.C. – Down by eight runs early, UNCG mounted a furious rally to tie the game in the eighth inning Saturday, but Western Carolina used a home run in the top of the 10th frame to escape the UNCG Baseball Stadium with a 13-12 victory. The Catamounts clinched the weekend series with the win.
The Spartans out-hit their guests 18-16, but left 14 runners on base while both squads committed an error. Each team also turned a pair of double plays.
Junior Tyler Frazier (Fairfax Station, Va./South County) was tagged with the loss, giving up the game-winning solo home run in the extra inning. He threw two complete frames allowing the run on just the one hit while walking two and striking out a pair of batters. Despite blowing the save in the eighth, Tyler Powell was credited with the victory – giving up two runs on three hits in 1.2 innings pitched with three walks and two strikeouts. Bryan Sammons picked up his second save, recording the final two outs of the contest.
A trio of Spartans produced three-hit efforts - juniors Zac MacAneney (Gibsonville, N.C./Virginia Tech), L.J. Kalawaia (Wailuku, Hawai’i/Ohlone College) and Jordan McDonald (Perth, Australia/Chattanooga State). Kalawaia also scored three runs while extending his hitting streak to 14 games. Additionally, classmate Hunter King (Mason City, Iowa/Northern Iowa Area CC) went 2-for-5 with two runs scored to stretch his own hitting streak to 12 contests while senior Sean Guite (Huntington Beach, Calif./Irvine Valley CC) tallied a base knock and has now hit safely in 10-straight games.
A total of four UNCG players drove in two runs in the form of redshirt freshman Julian Abreu (Miami, Florida/Florida Christian), freshman Jake Kusz (Durham, N.C./Riverside), junior Aaron Wright (Asheville, N.C./Chattanooga State) and redshirt sophomore Nin Marrero (Greensboro, N.C./Western Guilford). Abreu also scored three runs.
After Western Carolina scored the first six runs of the game, the Spartans rallied back with three runs on three hits and a Catamount error in the bottom of the second to slice their deficit to 6-3. WCU answered right back, going off for five runs in the top of the third on four hits to grab an 11-3 advantage after just 2.5 innings. A RBI groundout by Abreu made the score 11-4 after three complete.
Kusz and Marrero produced RBI singles in the bottom of the fifth to pull UNCG within 11-6, but the Catamounts got a Bradley Strong RBI single in the top of the seventh to push their cushion back to six runs.
The game moved to the eighth inning and that is when the Spartans went to work. MacAneney grounded out to begin the frame before Guite singled up the middle and King and junior Eric Kalbfleisch (Pilot Mountain, N.C./North Stokes) walked to load the bases. Kalawaia worked a walk to bring home Guite and McDonald hit a sacrifice fly to left field to make the score 12-8. UNCG was nowhere near finished as Abreu drew another walk and Wright came to the dish as a pinch hitter. He would rip a two-run single to right center, plating two runs. Marrero and MacAneney then produced RBI singles to complete the comeback and knot the score at 12. All told, the Blue and Gold scored six runs on four hits in the stanza.
Frazier came on in the top of the ninth and worked a scoreless inning, giving UNCG a chance to win in the bottom of the frame.
With two outs in the bottom of the ninth, Kalawaia was plunked and McDonald drew a walk to put the winning run in scoring position. Abreu battled in his at bat, but eventually grounded out to second to send the game to extra innings.
Jacob Hoyle led off with a quick solo shot in the top of the 10th to give the lead back to his team but that would be it for the Catamounts in the inning. Marrero walked with one out in the bottom of the frame, but MacAneney flied out to center and Guite hit into a fielder’s choice to end the contest.
The Blue and Gold will attempt to salvage the series finale Sunday at 1 p.m. inside the UNCG Baseball Stadium.