GREENSBORO, N.C. – Freshman Mike Ferrara cranked a walk-off home run over the left field wall in the 13th inning of game two of a doubleheader with Penn to give the UNCG baseball team a 6-5 victory over the Quakers on Saturday, March 2. That followed a 5-3 victory earlier in the day by the Spartans, who improved to 5-3 on the season and remain a perfect 4-0 at the UNCG Baseball Stadium.
Knotted at 5-5 in the bottom of the 13th, UNCG’s Josh Madole was a victim of a strikeout by Jacob Sadowitz to lead off the frame. Ferrara, the second batter of the inning, was facing a 1-2 count that he turned on and sent over the left field wall to halt a six-inning scoreless streak for both units.
Redshirt Sophomore Austin Parsley picked up his first win of the season as a result, tossing 3.1 innings, allowing one hit to the 12 batters he faced, while converting four strikeouts. He was one of six pitchers to take the mound in the game for the Spartans, including starter Alex Hoppe, who lasted 1.2 innings and finished with three strikeouts to go along with two earned runs.
Ferrara (2-5, 3 RBI, HR, run) and Caleb Webster (2-5, double, run) led the way for the Spartans at the plate in the second game. Defensively, UNCG finished with 39 put outs, seven assists and made Penn strand 19 runners on base.
“Our defense was good all day,” said head coach Link Jarrett. “Mike is a physical kid, plus gives us that sort of thing—we need doubles, balls to go over the fence—and he’s got that kind of capability.”
The UNCG bullpen of Brandon Stephens, Maddux Holshouser, Colin Best, Jack Voigt and Parsley combined to make 17 strikeouts and allow 11 hits over the course of the game, while limiting the Quakers (0-2) to eight walks.
“Hoppe has worked very hard to earn a start,” continued Jarrett. “He showed flashes of his capability with the velocity and slider that we see every day in practice. It didn’t go great, but Stephens came in and pitched three full innings for us and we had to lengthen it out a little bit. Voigt and Parsley were the difference for us today.
“Voight threw 75 pitches, which is beyond what he normally does, but he’s and athletic guy and he trains and works very hard,” added Jarrett. “It was one of those situations where that we had to extend him and he had to go, plus he had good command of his fastball, his change-up was in play and so was his slider. Parsley held everything in check over three innings of relief and he had a longer outing than he has had even in some of our scrimmages endured. So to see him go take command like that was good.”
UNCG (5-3) got the bats rolling early in the game with four runs in the first inning. Webster singled through the left side of the infield and Austin Embler followed with a single up the middle as the two eventually moved into scoring position with Ryan Caveness at the plate. Two batters later, with two outs, David Flores drew a walk to load the bases for the Spartans.
Madole worked the count in his favor, drawing the walk from Penn starting pitcher Josh Sidney for the first run of the game. Ferrara roped a single into left, scoring Flores and Caveness for the 3-0 UNCG lead. The final run of the inning came when Madole scored from second on an infield error to stretch the lead to 4-0.
The Spartans lead ballooned to 5-0 in the bottom of the second after Webster doubled to right center for his second hit of the game. He moved to third on a grounder by Embler before scoring when Caveness singled into right field for UNCG’s fifth run.
Penn would answer with two runs each in the second and third innings to tie the game, trimming the lead to 5-4 in the top of the third. The Quakers eventually tied the game at five-all on a double to right field by Chris Adams that brought home teammate Sean Phelan from second.
(GAME 1: UNCG 5, Penn 3)
UNCG capitalized on two runs in the bottom of the eighth to break a three-all tie and earn the 5-3 victory in the opening game of the doubleheader on Saturday. Freshman Jacquez Koone reached on a bases loaded error at shortstop, scoring David Flores from third for the game-winning run. Despite Greg Hardison’s swinging strikeout, Madole scored on a wild pitch from third to add the insurance run.
Chad Sykes (1-1), who struck out four of the eight batters he faced in 2.1 innings on the mound, earned the victory for the Spartans. He allowed only one walk and threw 36 pitches. Starter Phillip Sanderson scattered six hits over 5.2 innings, allowing two earned runs and one walk, while striking out four Quaker hitters.
Koonce (2-4, RBI) came through multiple hits for UNCG in the game, while Flores (1-3, RBI, HR, 2 runs), Hardison (1-4, RBI, double, run) and Webster (1-4, RBI) also had solid outings.
“Proud of the way we played in game one,” said head coach Link Jarrett. “Koonce had a well-played game at the plate and defensively. Flores had a big home run to put us back on top. Sanderson settled in and extended his start nicely. Sykes had good stuff and closed the game out nicely. Our defense was solid, which is a critical component of our team.”
Hardison began the day for UNCG with a double down the left field line before moving to second on a passed ball. Webster grounded out to second, but collected an RBI in the process as Hardison trotted home from third.
The Quakers’ bats warmed up in the third when Tommy Courtney sent a one-out double down the left field line. Peter Matt followed with a single to left, putting runners at the corners. Two batters later, with Matt at second following a wild pitch, Sean Phelan delivered a single to right field that scored Courtney and Matt in succession for the 2-1 Quaker lead.
UNCG drew even in the fifth after back-to-back hits to lead off the frame. Ferrara opened with a double that reached the centerfield wall and Koonce singled up the middle to put runners at first and third. Hardison plated Ferrara from third with a sacrifice fly.
Flores provided UNCG with its second lead of the game after taking a 2-0 pitch over the left field wall for his second home run of the season.
Penn answered in the top of the seventh inning, when Courtney came through with a double into left field and moved to third on a wild pitch. Matt brought the runner home by reaching first on a wild pitch, despite the swinging strikeout, allowing Courtney to tie the game at three-all.