Baseball Falls To UNC Asheville, 7-4
GREENSBORO, N.C. – UNC Asheville scored five times in the top of the sixth inning Wednesday night en route to a 7-4 non-conference victory over UNCG at the UNCG Baseball Stadium. It was the season opener for the Bulldogs (1-0) and just the second contest of the campaign for the Spartans (1-1).
The Blue and Gold issued 14 walks in the contest spread out over nine different pitchers and left 11 men on base while also striking out 10 times. The Spartans out-hit Asheville 12-6 but could only manage the four runs. Additionally, the Bulldogs made a pair of errors while UNCG committed just one.
Despite throwing a team-high three innings, freshman LHP Andrew George (Miami, Fla./Florida Christian) was saddled with his first loss of the season as he allowed three runs on one hit with five walks and five strikeouts. Dean Roland picked up his first victory of the year, throwing five complete innings and allowing two runs on seven hits with five strikeouts. Freshman RHP Adam Swim (Greensboro, N.C./Northwest Guilford) was effective for the second-consecutive evening, going 1.1 innings and giving up no hits with two strikeouts.
A total of four Spartans recorded two hits in the contest as junior infielder Hunter King (Mason City, Iowa/Northern Iowa Area CC) was 2-for-5 with a RBI. Junior outfielder Nick Chapman (Morganton, N.C./Patton), junior infielder Aaron Wright (Asheville, N.C./Chattanooga State) and junior outfielder Zac MacAneney (Gibsonville, N.C./Virginia Tech) also drove in a run each.
After both teams left runners at second and third in the first inning, UNCG was the first to break onto the scoreboard. Junior outfielder L.J. Kalawaia (Wailuku, Hawai’i/Ohlone College) and senior infielder Sean Guite (Huntington Beach, Calif./Irvine Valley CC) singled and Kalawaia reached third after the right fielder bobbled the ball, putting runners on the corners with no outs. MacAneney followed with a single up the middle which scored Kalawaia and would steal second when redshirt sophomore infielder Nin Marrero struck out swinging. Chapman then grounded out to second base, allowing Guite to cross the plate and make it a 2-0 ballgame in favor of the Spartans.
UNCG cruised right along until the top of the fifth inning. George, who had pitched a solid third and fourth innings, walked the bases loaded with no outs bringing on junior RHP Brennen James (Taylorsville, N.C./Alexander Central). The first batter he faced, Erik Connolly, laced a two-run single to center field to tie the game. After James struck out Phillip Treadway looking, Sam Turner doubled to right center, allowing Justin Woods to score and give UNC Asheville a 3-2 lead. The Bulldogs would score two more runs on wild pitches to take a 5-2 advantage after the half inning.
The visitors plated two more runs in the top of the eighth on bases loaded walks to forge ahead 7-2. The Blue and Gold would then attempt to walk off to a win for the second-straight evening. After MacAneney led off and struck out swinging, Marrero sent a ball to the left field fence for a one-out double. Chapman then reached on an error at shortstop which allowed Marrero to advance to third. A RBI single by King would score Marrero to make it 7-3 before redshirt freshman outfielder Julian Abreu (Miami, Fla./Florida Christian) and Wright also singled to bring home Chapman. With the bases still loaded and with one away, freshman catcher Jake Kusz (Durham, N.C./Riverside) and Kalawaia struck out swinging to end the game.
UNCG returns to action this weekend with a three-game series in Atlanta, Ga., against Atlantic Coast Conference member Georgia Tech. The Spartans and Yellow Jackets will begin the set Friday, Feb. 21, at 4 p.m. inside Russ Chandler Stadium.