Pitching Shines in 5-2 Victory over Binghamton
Two players had multiple hits in Saturday’s game. L.J. Kalawaia (Wailuku, Hawai’i/Ohlone College) and Ben Spitznagel (Cincinnati, Ohio/Wabash Valley CC) picked up two hits. Spitznagel earned two bunt base hits, laying one down the third baseline and using a perfect drag bunt past the pitcher for his second hit.
Ryne Sigmon (Danville, Va./Danville CC) and Dillon Stewart (Dunn, N.C./Brunswick CC) provided the key hits for the Spartans. Both Sigmon and Stewart finished with one hit, but both tallied two RBI. Michael Goss (Cartersville, Ga./Chattanooga St. CC) also added an RBI. Collin Woody (Tampa, Fla./College of Central Florida) and Jake Kusz (Durham, N.C./Riverside) each finished 1-for-3 with two runs scored. The Spartans combined for 10 hits on the day, as UNCG has earned double-digit hits in every game so far this season.
Bryce Hensley (Asheville, N.C./Catawba Valley CC) (2-0) started the game and threw 6.0 innings, allowing only four hits, two runs; one earned, walking two and striking out eight. Hensley earned his second win in as many starts for the Spartans. Andrew Wantz (Holly Springs, N.C./Holly Springs) shined out of the bullpen. The sophomore threw the final 3.0 innings, allowed one hit, walked one batter, and struck out seven of the 11 batters he faced en route to the first save of his career.
The Spartans took an early lead, plating one in the bottom of the first frame. Kalawaia led off with a double to left center and moved to third on a well-executed bunt from Tripp Shelton (Winston-Salem, N.C./West Forsyth). Goss ground out to short but the play allowed Kalawaia to score and give UNCG an early lead.
Binghamton matched the Spartans in their next at bat. Eddie Posavec reached on a sharp ground ball to third base and moved around the bases due to a failed UNCG pick-off attempt. Paul Rufo drilled a double down the right field line to bring in Posavec and knot the game up.
UNCG regained the lead in the bottom of the fourth inning. Woody singled and Kusz reached after getting hit by pitch. Sigmon hit a line drive to shallow center that skipped by the Binghamton centerfielder and rolled all the way to the wall. Sigmon cleared the bases but was thrown out at home attempting an inside-the-park home run.
The Bearcats again answered the Spartan rally, getting a run back in the top of the fifth. Hensley struck out the first three batters of the inning, but a wild pitch allowed the final out to reach first base. After a well-executed hit and run, the Bearcats had runners on the corners. Reed Gamache then doubled to right to bring in the first run, but David Schanz was thrown out at home by the relay of Kalawaia, to Spitznagel to Kusz.
UNCG added two more to its lead in the bottom of the sixth inning. Woody led off drawing a walk, and moved to third after a Kusz double down the left field line. Stewart connected for a single to centerfield to bring in the runs and give the Spartans a three-run cushion.
Wantz allowed just two base runners through his three innings of work.
The Spartans return to action on Sunday, Feb. 28th as they will host the Bearcats in the series finale at the UNCG Baseball Stadium at 1:00 p.m.