Isaiah Saint Hilaire
The weekend saw a lot of surprises as the Spartan baseball team capped off a 2-1 series victory against the VMI Cadets. Bad weather on Saturday forced the teams to play a double header on Friday before closing out the series on Sunday. The series would be the first on the Spartans’ SoCon schedule. UNCG defeated VMI in the first game by a score of 9-1. Junior outfielder Andrew Moritz hit his sixth career home run in Game 1 and in Game 2; sophomore infielder Caleb Webster ended up winning it for the UNCG Spartans by a score of 6-3. Those victories improved the record for the Spartans to 16-5 overall and 2-0 in the Southern conference before they had lost to VMI Sunday afternoon by a score of 8-7.
Junior starting pitcher Matt Frisbee played very well against a VMI team struggling to hit the ball in the first six innings. At that point, UNCG was leading VMI 4-1 before opening the game in the eighth inning by scoring five runs and ultimately winning 9-1. The second game was quite competitive as the Cadets forced the game to go into extra innings and Webster had earned his first home run of the season. Head coach Link Jarrett was really pleased by how his guys played in the first two games. However, he did not appreciate how the Spartans had allowed the Cadets to push game two into extra innings, but he enjoyed the two wins.
“Offensively, the first game, (Josh) Winder is an exceptional pitcher and we were able to do just enough. (Andrew) Moritz had a hit and run he hit out of the ballpark to get us on the board” coach Jarrett said. “I thought our base running in the first game was executed well and allowed us to do enough to keep the pressure on them throughout. Tripp (Shelton) had a big double play in the first game, backhanding a ball to his right and making the long throw to get us out of a jam.”
Coach Jarrett was appreciative of the outcome of the two games. He just ensured that UNCG needs to be more cautious of how they play and ensure that they play hard all nine innings. The second game had the Spartans hitting quite poorly before Webster had his offensive explosion in the bottom of the tenth inning. They had earned seven hits while Webster went 3-5 with three RBI and hit the most significant hit of the game. Moritz was 2-4 with an RBI. UNCG added to the lead they had in the fourth inning scoring two runs.
In Game 3, senior Jake Kusz hit his third home run of the season. VMI ended up scoring three consecutive runs in the eighth inning to win the game 8-7. The Spartans were not as productive offensively, as they had been in the first two games. That loss now gives UNCG one loss in the Southern Conference at 2-1 and now 16-6 overall.
Senior Dan Loats was the starting pitcher in Game 3 and threw for over three innings but allowed five hits and three runs. He did strikeout five hitters, but those runs did not help the Spartans in the afternoon. Junior Jake Lewis ended up coming in to throw for two innings allowing a run and striking out four batters. However, senior Jack Maynard came in for the next two innings, giving up four runs and ultimately suffered the lost. Andrew Wantz pitched perfectly in the ninth inning as he struck out two and only allowed one hit.
The Spartans baseball team has been playing well as of late, and their only loss has been to the team they recently faced. Despite their strong offense, the team could not push enough runs across the plate to sweep the opening SoCon series. The whole team cannot get into a slump if they plan on repeating as Southern Conference champions. The pitching has fluctuated as well but when that happens, as Coach Jarrett has noted, they need to play better offensively. The team will play host to Georgetown for a three game series starting on Thursday night.