Baseball Rallies Past North Carolina A&T, 8-7
GREENSBORO, N.C. – After spotting North Carolina A&T a 7-1 lead through four and a half innings Wednesday evening, UNCG rallied with seven unanswered runs - including three in the bottom of the ninth – to walk away with an 8-7 victory inside the UNCG Baseball Stadium. The Spartans improve to 13-11 overall while the Aggies drop to 11-13. The victory was the sixth straight for the Blue and Gold in the all-time series.
With the score 7-5 in favor of A&T entering the bottom of the ninth inning, senior Sean Guite (Huntington Beach, Calif./Irvine Valley CC) was hit by a pitch and junior Eric Kalbfleisch singled to center field. Infielder Jordan McDonald (Perth, Australia/Chattanooga State) filed out to deep right center, allowing Guite to move to third, before redshirt sophomore Nin Marrero (Greensboro, N.C./Western Guilford) doubled to left field to score Guite with two outs and pull the Blue and Gold within a run. Redshirt freshman Julian Abreu (Miami, Fla./Florida Christian) fell behind 1-2 but was able to work a walk and keep the inning alive.
North Carolina A&T went to its bullpen with the bases now loaded and brought on Tyler Boone to try to put out the fire. He was unable to do so, however, as his very first pitch bounced to the backstop and catcher Cameron Jergens was unable to find the ball at the backstop - allowing Kalbfleisch to score and Marrero to cross the plate all the way from second base to clinch an improbable victory for UNCG.
Kalbfleisch paced the Spartan offense with a 3-for-5 performance while also scoring two runs. McDonald extended his current career-best hitting streak to 17 games with a double and a triple, drove in a run and drew his team-leading 19th walk of the season. Additionally, Abreu recorded two hits in three at bats while scoring a run and walking twice.
Freshman RHP Adam Swim (Greensboro, N.C./Northwest Guilford) earned the victory, improving to 2-1 on the season as he threw the final two-thirds of the top of the ninth inning and did not allow a hit or run. DarArmani Swift (1-2) suffered the loss for the Aggies – allowing three runs in 3.1 innings of work with two walks and two strikeouts. UNCG used six pitchers in the contest and the final four hurlers limited North Carolina A&T to just three hits and no runs in 3.2 innings.
The Spartans had a great chance to jump on top in the bottom of the first inning. However, with the bases loaded and one away, junior L.J. Kalawaia (Wailuku, Hawai’i/Ohlone College) hit into a double play to terminate the threat.
In the top of the second, the Aggies struck for four two-out runs on three hits, as the big blow was a two-run triple to deep center by Brandon Mitchell. The other two runs occurred thanks to a wild pitch and a RBI-double by Brandon Wilkerson.
UNCG struck back in the bottom of the third as McDonald tripled down the right field line with two outs. Kalawaia then singled up the middle to drive home McDonald and slice the A&T advantage to 4-1. The Aggies would get the run back in the top of the fourth on a RBI single by leadoff man Luke Tendler.
Looking to put the game out of reach, North Carolina A&T plated a pair of runs in the top of the fifth again with two outs. Lester Salcedo got the rally going with a single and advanced to second as the Spartans attempted to throw out Jergens at third. Jergens had reached on a one-out walk. A double by Ryan Hill brought both runners home to give the visitors a 7-1 cushion.
The Blue and Gold put up a run in the bottom of the frame on a RBI double by McDonald before tallying three in the bottom of the sixth to pull within 7-5. Abreu, sophomore Jake Hall (Asheboro, N.C./Southwestern Randolph) and junior Tyler Long (Halifax, Va./Louisburg College) all singled to load the bases with no outs and a passed ball allowed Abreu to score. MacAneney then produced a RBI groundout that plated Hall and Guite reached on an error at short but was credited a RBI as Long scored on the play.
Both teams were held scoreless in the seventh and eighth innings, setting up the dramatics in the ninth. Redshirt junior Blair Betts (Cary, N.C./Indiana) and Swim combined to throw the final two innings for UNCG without giving up any runs or hits.
The Spartans jump back into conference play this weekend as they head up to the mountains for a three-game Southern Conference series with Appalachian State. UNCG and ASU will begin the set Friday at 4 p.m. inside Jim and Bettie Smith Stadium.