UNCG Baseball: Spartans sweep The Citadel

PC: Carlos Morales

Andrew Salmon
Sports Editor

The UNCG baseball team completed a three-game series sweep of The Citadel last weekend at the UNCG Baseball Stadium. The sweep brings the Spartans to 26-15 overall and 22-5 at home, while last-place The Citadel falls to an abysmal 10-32.

Two weeks ago, UNCG had a rough time in their three-game series at league-leading Samford. The Spartans were swept, including an embarrassing 14-0 loss on Apr 20, one of the worst defeats in the Link Jarrett era. The sweep all but eliminated any chances for the Spartans to repeat as SoCon regular season champions.

After returning to North Carolina, UNCG made the short trip to Elon to face the Phoenix for their weekly Tuesday evening game. Elon led 8-1 at the end of the fifth inning, bolstered by a dependable bullpen and Ty Adcock’s three-run home run to centerfield in the bottom of the first.

The Spartans made their move in the top of the sixth. Catcher Ryan Caveness, who went 2-5 with three RBI, slapped a single down the third base line to drive in Caleb Webster, then again struck with a two-RBI, two-out single in the next inning. Caveness scored on a busted pickoff attempt, and suddenly, UNCG was right back in it at 8-7.

UNCG’s Chad Sykes, a senior reliever with a stunning 0.65 ERA, entered the game in the bottom of the seventh, and the Phoenix offense had no answers. Sykes, who is setting himself up for an All-SoCon season after missing the entirety of 2018 due to Tommy John surgery, earned the win and gave up one hit and zero runs in 3.0 innings pitched.

UNCG’s first game with The Citadel was scheduled for Friday but had to be rescheduled for a Saturday doubleheader. UNCG won the first head 6-5 and the second 16-10.

UNCG again had to mount a comeback in the first game, trailing 5-0 in the bottom of the sixth. Webster started things off with a single to centerfield, and freshman infielder Hogan Windish drove him home with an RBI single two batters later. Sophomore Coleman Sawyer then smashed a two-RBI triple to center, and junior Jacquez Koonce drove in Sawyer to cut the Bulldog lead to 5-4.

Windish tied it with a homer in the eighth, and freshman Zack Budzik homered again two batters later. Sykes finished off the Citadel in the ninth for his sixth save of the season.

The teams took a 45-minute break and retook the field. The Citadel again jumped out to a lead, but a six-run fourth inning was too much for the Bulldogs to overcome. It was largely their own doing—of those six runs, four came off wild pitches and another off a walk, a meltdown of huge proportions. Budzik’s sacrifice fly was the only run caused by contact with the ball.

Still, a few Spartans finished the day with impressive box scores: leadoff man Greg Harrison went 2-5 with three RBI and a triple, and Sykes again closed out the day for UNCG, giving up two hits and striking out one while earning the save in 2.0 innings pitched.

It was smooth sailing for UNCG on Sunday. A Koonce triple and a Webster RBI single helped UNCG lead 6-1 at the end of three. The Citadel designated hitter Ches Goodman knocked out a two-run home run in the top of the seventh, but it wasn’t nearly enough. UNCG cruised, 8-3. Redshirt junior Jake Mayhew earned the win, pitching 5.0 innings with three hits, five strikeouts and one earned run.

The Spartans return to UNCG Baseball Stadium on Tuesday, May 14 for a one-game series against Winthrop. Their last home series of the season begins on Thursday, May 16 vs. Wofford.

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