Smith Throws Seven Shutout Innings in Victory Over Samford
With the win, UNCG improves to 33-11 overall, and 11-2 in the Southern Conference. Samford, a preseason favorite to win the SoCon, falls to 24-19, and 6-7 in the SoCon.
“I was very pleased with our start from Hunter (Smith) tonight.” Head Coach Link Jarrett said, “He settled in after the first inning and did a great job keeping us in the game. We weren’t great out of the gate offensively, but eventually we created enough to blow it open. That’s a great team, and our guys came out with a lot of energy today. I could tell the guys were dialed in as soon as warm-ups started. We had some bad luck tonight, lining into a couple double plays. But we stuck with it and the starting pitching is what can get you into a Friday night game. We were finally able to capitalize on some offensive chances late. That was a quality win over a great club.”
UNCG had eight of nine starters collect hits in the game, with five having multiple-hit games. L.J. Kalawaia (Wailuku, Hawai’i/Ohlone College) led the 15 hit attack, with a 4-for-5 performances, scoring three runs and driving in two more. Collin Woody (Tampa, Fla./College of Central Florida) finished with a pair of hits, four RBI and two runs scored. Woody hit his ninth home run of the season, and is now tied with Dillon Stewart (Dunn, N.C./Brunswick CC) for the team lead.
Stewart finished 2-for-4 on the day and scored a run. The junior almost had his tenth home run of the season, but had a triple hit off the top half of the batter’s eye in centerfield to keep in in the park. Devin Ruiz (Pennsauken, N.J./Paul VI) added two hits, with two RBI, as Jake Kusz (Durham, N.C./Riverside) went 2-for-4 with a home run. Kusz extends his consecutive game with an RBI streak to 12 games.
Smith earned his sixth victory of the season, going 7.0 shutout innings, allowing only two hits and striking out six batters. Andrew Wantz (Holly Springs, N.C./Holly Springs) worked the eighth inning, recording a strikeout. Woody threw in the ninth, allowing a pair of runs on one hit.
After a walk, a hit by pitch and a single loaded the bases in the bottom of the third, Kalawaia hit into a fielder’s choice to bring in Trejo and put runners on the corners. Woody muscled one off the handle to second base for the ground out allowing Ben Spitznagel (Cincinnati, Ohio/Wabash Valley CC) to score and put UNCG up 2-0.
The Spartans tacked on another run in the bottom of the fourth. After three singles loaded the bases, Spitznagel hit one back through the box where the second baseman was able to field it and get the runner at second, but Goss was able to score on the play.
UNCG tacked on a solo run in the bottom of the fifth frame. Kalawaia singled to right and stole his way to third. Ruiz dropped a single to right field to score Kalawaia and extend the lead to 4-0.
Kalawaia extended the lead in the bottom of the seventh inning. After hitting a one-out triple, he scored on a single from Woody. Ruiz followed with a double down the left field line to score Woody from first and push the lead to 6-0.
Kusz extended the lead in the bottom of the eighth, hitting a solo home run to left field. Stewart followed with a triple off the top of the wall in centerfield before scoring on a Kalawaia single. Woody extended the lead, hitting his ninth home run of the season, a two-run shot to extend the lead to 10-0 Spartans.
Samford scored two runs in the top of the ninth inning, as they were aided by two walks.
The Spartans and Bulldogs return to action on Saturday, Apr. 30th for a doubleheader beginning at 1:00 p.m.