LEXINGTON, Va. – After being limited to two hits in the first seven innings of the game, the UNC Greensboro baseball team exploded for nine hits and six runs in the final two frames to claim a 6-1 victory over VMI on Saturday, May 11th at Gray-Minor Stadium. The victory marked the 16th 30-win season in program history and first time since the turn of the century that UNCG has had at least four-straight 30-win campaigns.
UNCG (30-16, 12-8 SoCon) opened the eighth inning with a double to right by Zack Budzik, who quickly moved to third on a bunt single by Greg Hardison. Austin Embler notched the third straight hit for UNCG, a bunt single that scored Budzik from third, to give the Spartans a 1-0 advantage.
Two batters later, Zach Kuchmaner dropped a double into right-centerfield, scoring Hardison and Embler in succession to extend the Spartan lead to 3-0. VMI (15-36, 9-14 SoCon) got one run back in the bottom of the eighth, following a double to centerfield by Cullen Nuccio, trimming the lead to two.
Jacquez Koonce drove a single into centerfield for the first UNCG hit of the ninth, advancing to third after Budzik doubled down the left field line. Hardison followed with a bases-clearing double into left-centerfield, scoring Koonce and Budzik in the process, as the Spartans established a 5-1 advantage. Embler kept the hit parade going with a single to second and after a VMI pitching change, Caleb Webster slapped a single to shortstop that scored Hardison for the final run of the game.
UNCG reliever Chad Sykes returned to the mound in the ninth, striking out Nathan Loyd to secure his 10th save of the season. Sykes worked the final two innings of the game, surrendering one hit, one walk and his fourth earned run of the season along the way.
Spartan starter Phillip Sanderson, who moved to 5-3 with the victory, limited the Keydets to four hits and three walks over seven innings. Sanderson, who notched his first victory since downing George Mason (April 13), faced 25 VMI hitters and finished with five strikeouts.
Offensively, UNCG received multi-hit games from Hardison (3-for-5, 2 RBI, 2 runs, 2 doubles), Embler (2-for-5, RBI, run), Kuchmaner (2-for-5, 2 RBI, double) and Budzik (2-for-4, 2 runs, 2 doubles).
The two complete the three-game series on Sunday, May 12th at Gray-Minor Stadium at 1 p.m.
UNCG-VMI FAST FACTS (Game 2)
-UNCG is now 26-14 in head-to-head meetings against VMI.
-Zack Budzik extended his hitting streak to nine games following a 2-for-4 outing that included a pair of doubles. It is the second time this season that Budzik has had two doubles in the same game.
-Jacquez Koonce also stretched his hitting streak to nine games with a ninth-inning single.
-Phillip Sanderson tied his longest outing of the season (seven innings) as he recorded five strikeouts and allowed four hits versus VMI. Sanderson also went seven innings against Jacksonville (March 16) and has five games of at least five strikeouts.
-With five doubles against the Keydet pitching staff, UNCG has now had 26 games with multiple doubles. It is the fourth game this season that the Spartans have had five doubles, which also came against Quinnipiac (Feb. 15), The Citadel (April 27), ETSU (May 5) and VMI (May 11).
-Chad Sykes, who picked up his team-best 10th save, tossed at least two innings for the 16th time this season. While he allowed his fourth earned run of the season, Sykes also recorded a pair of strikeouts against the Keydets, marking the 61st straight time that he has tallied at least one strikeout in an appearance.
-Spartans post four straight winning seasons for first time since 2000 when they had six straight 30-win seasons-2000 (34 wins), 2001 (31), 2002 (33), 2003 (39), 2004 (33), 2005 (31). In the last four years UNCG has won 30 game in 2016 (38), 2017 (36), 2018 (39) and 2019 (30).