GREENSBORO, N.C. – The UNCG baseball team overcame a 3-0 deficit after four and a half innings Sunday, scoring five runs in the final three innings to post an 8-5 victory over 2012 NCAA Regional participant Army at the UNCG Baseball Stadium. The Spartans emerge from opening weekend 2-0 while the Black Knights drop to 0-2.
"This was a great win for the guys today," head coach Link Jarrett said. "I thought Lee [Gilliam] pitched phenomenally and I really like the way we battled back after the first couple of innings. The conditions today were pretty miserable, so a lot of credit goes to our team for putting some good at bats together."
Senior outfielder Christian Wolfe (Bel Air, Md./John Carroll) and redshirt freshman infielder Nin Marrero (Greensboro, N.C./Western Guilford) enjoyed productive days at the plate for the Blue and Gold as Wolfe was 3-for-4 with three RBI and Marrero hit 3-for-3 with a RBI of his own. Junior catcher Cambric Moye (Goldsboro, N.C./Eastern Wayne) also provided the Spartans with two RBI while sophomore outfield Zac MacAneney (Gibsonville, N.C./Western Alamance) crossed home plate three times.
UNCG starter and sophomore Lee Gilliam (Chapel Hill, N.C./Chapel Hill) turned in a stellar performance, throwing 4.1 innings, scattering two hits and striking out seven. He gave up three runs but all of them were unearned. Junior Dylan Thompson (Snow Camp, N.C./Guilford Technical CC) entered in the fifth and lasted 2.2 frames. He earned his first win of the season, giving up just one run, two hits and struck out one batter. Picking up his second save of the weekend was senior left-hander Corey Taylor (Fallston, Md./Fallston) as he hurled the final two innings - allowing just one run on two hits with a strikeout.
After walking leadoff batter Daniel Cortes to begin the game, Gilliam was able to strike out the last two batters in the frame to escape any early damage. Wolfe doubled to start the bottom of the frame, but he was picked off a second, effectively killing the Spartans' momentum.
The Black Knights struck first in the top of the third as Patrick Mescher began the inning with a single through the right side. He then stole second with one out and scored after an error by Lloyd Enzor (Whiteville, N.C./Southeastern CC) at first. UNCG attempted to respond in its half of the third, but with runners on first and second with one out, Wolfe popped up to short and senior infielder TJ Spina (Newberry, Fla./Santa Fe) flied out to right field to end the threat.
The visitors were able to stretch their lead to 3-0 thanks to a pair of Spartan errors in the top of the fifth, but the Blue and Gold fought back in the bottom half. Junior outfielder Cole Harrison (Key West, Fla./Key West) was hit by a pitch to lead off the inning before MacAneney drew a walk. Marrero then laid down a perfect bunt single which loaded the bases for Moye. He came through in a big way, singling past the Army third baseman to cut the Black Knight cushion to 3-2. Wolfe then flied out to left field, allowing Marrero to score and make it a 3-3 ballgame.
The Black Knights retook the lead in the top of the sixth as two singles put Jacob Page on third with one out. Mescher then flew out to shallow left field but hit the ball long enough to let Page score on the play. The next batter, Jon Crucitti, grounded out to first base to end the inning.
Harrison reached on an error by the Army third baseman to open the bottom of the sixth but was thrown out at second on a fielder's choice. With MacAneney at first, Marrero singled through the right side. Then with two outs and MacAneney on third after another fielder's choice, Wolfe singled to center to tie the contest once more. Spina then followed with an RBI single that scored Moye and gave UNCG a 5-4 lead it would not relinquish.
Taylor worked around a one-out single in the top of the eighth to keep the Black Knights off the board before the Spartans plated three runs in the bottom of the inning to put the game out of reach. The Blue and Gold scored two unearned runs in the inning and also received a RBI bunt single off a successful squeeze by Marrero to make it 8-4.
Army attempted one last rally in the top of the ninth, but could only manage a RBI groundout by Cortes before Taylor induced two groundouts to end the game.
UNCG returns to action Tuesday, Feb. 19, hosting Big South member UNC Asheville. First pitch at the UNCG Baseball Stadium is slated for 4 p.m.
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