UNCG bullies Citadel, take two out of three

Photo Courtesy of Madison Wyker/The Carolinian

Photo Courtesy of Madison Wyker/The Carolinian

By Matthew Johnson, Sports Editor

Published in print Apr. 22, 2015

The Spartans this past weekend battled against the Citadel at the UNCG Baseball Stadium. In the three game series, UNC-Greensboro was able to achieve their first home series win since the weekend of March 20 in their two day series against the Bulldogs. Taking the first two game of the series before falling 8-7 in the finale Saturday night, the Blue and Gold’s record currently sits at 17-18. Featuring strong performances from ace Ryan Clark and batters Eric Kalbfleisch and Collin Woody, UNC-Greensboro improved their home record to an impressive 11-5 and their conference record to 8-7.

With first pitch occurring at 6:03 p.m. last Friday, the Spartans were led by Ryan Clark who threw a gem for UNCG to open the series with a 5-0 win. Channeling the stuff that earned him Southern Conference Pitcher of the Month for March, Clark struck out 12 Bulldogs on Friday night to improve his record to 6-3. Throwing a complete game shutout with only two hits, Clark was a workhorse for Link Jarrett’s squad. Clark gave one of his best performances on an already noteworthy season against the Citadel last Friday. With such an outstanding game, the bats of the Spartans did not necessarily need to score much due to their pitcher’s performance, but the team still put up five runs against the Citadel.

Catcher Jake Kusz went 3-for-3 in the contest with two RBIs and one run last Friday. The batters of UNCG also saw a strong game from senior outfielder Tyler Long who scored a run and went 2-for-4 at the dish.

An impending Sunday storm caused both teams to decide to have a doubleheader on Saturday, moving Sunday’s game to Saturday evening. Originally, a three-day series, the Spartans split the doubleheader on Saturday, winning the first game 5-4 and nearly pulling off the sweep in the series finale, but falling to the Citadel 8-7.

In front of a crowd heavy with Blue and Gold apparel, the Spartans won in walk-off fashion in game one of their Saturday doubleheader. Sophomore Collin Woody continued his thrilling weekend by drilling a screaming liner over the centerfield wall to carry UNCG to victory Saturday afternoon. In one of the best moments on the season for the Blue and Gold, as he circled the bases on the ninth inning blast, the Spartans dugout surged out of their bench to congratulate Woody at home plate following his homerun. 

With all the fireworks at the end of the game, the Spartans were in a highly competitive game against the Citadel. Carrying the momentum from his first game, Woody who went 3-for-5 at the plate. Eric Kalbfleisch went 2-for-3 in the batter’s box, bringing in two RBIs and scoring a run. In simply a third of an inning, junior Bryan Stafford was given the win. Stafford improved to 3-1 on the season.

Due to the dominant nature of the first two games, the series finale was certainly a shock for the 723 fans in attendance. The Bulldogs pounced on the Spartans early, posting a quick 7-1 lead by the end of the second inning. Freshman Michael Bates struggled mightily on the mound, lasting only 1 ⅓ innings. Bates allowed six runs on six hits in his work and fell to 0-3 on the year. Early errors and inefficient pitching put UNC-Greensboro in the hole early, but the team’s late rally almost allowed the Blue and Gold to overcome their early troubles. Key hits by infielders Tripp Shelter, Aaron Wright and Collin Woody in the seventh and eighth inning spearheaded a Spartan rally, which just fell short.   

A Hunter King homerun in the bottom of the ninth had the Spartans down by one with weekend hero Collin Woody coming to the plate. Unfortunately, like Casey at the plate for the Mudville Nine, Collin could not land a hit for his team. Woody would hit a pop fly to center field which was hauled in by a Citadel outfielder. UNC-Greensboro will hit the road this weekend to travel to Georgia to take on Mercer in a three day, three game series beginning Friday at six p.m.      

Categories: madison wyker, matthew johnson, Sports

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