GREENSBORO, N.C. – Sophomore RHP Ryan Clark (Johnson City, N.Y./Johnson City) pitched eight strong innings and the UNCG baseball team backed him with plenty of run support Friday afternoon as the Spartans picked up a 7-1 victory over Georgetown in the teams’ series opener inside the UNCG Baseball Stadium. The contest marked the first-ever meeting between the programs.
Clark hurled a career-best eight innings giving up just one unearned run on four hits with five strikeouts and only one walk. Junior LHP Caleb Henley (Salisbury, N.C./East Rowan) came on to throw the ninth and held the Hoyas off the board to preserve the win.
A pair of Spartans turned in three-hit games in senior infielder Sean Guite (Huntington Beach, Calif./Irvine Valley CC) and sophomore catcher Jake Hall (Asheboro, N.C./Southwestern Randolph). Guite was 3-for-4 with a RBI while Hall finished 3-for-3 and also recorded six putouts. Additionally, redshirt freshman infielder Julian Abreu (Miami, Fla./Florida Christian) tallied two hits and drove in a pair of runs.
The Blue and Gold out-hit the visitors 13-5 and did not give up an earned run against the Georgetown offense. Both sides made an error which led to two runs for the Spartans and the Hoyas’ lone tally of the day.
While Clark was busy throwing a perfect three innings to begin his day, the UNCG offense went to work in the bottom of the third inning and plated a run on three hits to forge ahead early. With one away, Hall, junior outfielder Zac MacAneney (Gibsonville, N.C./Virginia Tech) and redshirt sophomore outfielder Nin Marrero (Greensboro, N.C./Western Guilford) singled to load the bases. Abreu came through in the next at bat and tallied a sacrifice fly to center that scored Hall.
After a two-out hit for Georgetown, its first of the day, failed to come to fruition on the scoreboard in the top of the fourth, the Blue and Gold broke the game open in the bottom of the frame.
Junior infielder Jordan McDonald (Perth, Australia/Chattanooga State) led off with a bunt single down the third base line and scored on the very next at bat as junior outfielder L.J. Kalawaia (Wailuku, Hawai’i/Ohlone College) blasted a triple over the head of the Hoyas’ left fielder to make the score 2-0. Guite then laced a single up the middle that scored Kalawaia – extending the home team’s advantage to 3-0. After MacAneney was hit to load the bases with one out, Marrero reached on a fielder’s choice to score Guite and Abreu singled through the right side to plate Hall and leave the score at 5-0 after four complete innings.
The Spartans threatened again in the bottom of the fifth, but with two outs and runners at second and third, pinch hitter and freshman Dillon Stewart (Dunn, N.C./Triton) grounded out to second to terminate the inning.
The Hoyas broke up the shutout with two outs in the top of the sixth as AC Carter put a ball in play and Guite committed a throwing error to allow Ryan Busch to cross home plate and bring the score to 5-1.
With Clark still pitching a gem for UNCG in the seventh, the Blue and Gold put the game away with a pair of runs in the bottom of the frame. Guite singled up the middle to lead off and moved to second on a wild pitch. Long then drew a walk to put runners on first and second with no outs. Hall put down a sacrifice bunt to move the runners up a base and Marrero reached on a throwing error at short that enabled both Guite and Long to score unearned and provide the game’s final six-run margin.
Georgetown recorded a hit in each of the eighth and ninth innings, but Clark and Henley calmly closed the door on any comeback attempt in both frames.
The Spartans and Hoyas will meet Saturday at 2 p.m. for game two of the non-conference series at the UNCG Baseball Stadium.