SoConSports.com - Official Website of the Southern Conference
Friday's SoCon Baseball Championship roundup
Courtesy: Southern Conference
Release: 05/25/2018
Western Carolina and UNCG each advanced on Friday
Courtesy: Southern Conference

No. 9 Western Carolina 11, No. 6 ETSU 8

GREENVILLE, S.C. – Led by Justin Sparks’ four-RBI day, the No. 9 seed Western Carolina Catamounts staved off a late comeback attempt to defeat the No. 6 seed ETSU Bucs 11-8 on Friday at the Southern Conference Baseball Championship presented by Holston Gases at Fluor Field.

Avoiding elimination, Western Carolina (10-46) advances to Saturday’s action and will face the winner of No. 1 UNCG and No. 3 Wofford who play on Friday. ETSU sees its season end at 28-25.

The Catamounts matched their season high in hits with 16 and runs with 11, committing two errors in the slick conditions. Eight of nine Western Carolina batters reached base, led by Caleb Robinson’s four-hit, two-RBI effort. Entering the tournament, the Catamounts had only scored in double figures three times, but have done so in two of their three SoCon Baseball Championship games.

After Western Carolina blitzed the ETSU staff to the tune of an 11-1 lead after 6 1/2 innings, the Bucs scored five runs in the seventh and eighth to make the score 11-6. In the ninth, the Bucs would load the bases and score two runs before Tristan Baker recorded a strikeout to end the game.

Zach Franklin (1-4) picked up the win for Western Carolina, going seven innings while striking out seven batters and allowing just two earned runs.

ETSU’s Daniel Sweeney gets the loss, falling to 3-2 on the season. Sweeney lasted just 2/3 of an inning, giving up two earned runs and walking a pair of batters.

Western Carolina wasted no time getting on the board, hanging five runs on ETSU in the first inning. With two runners on base, Sparks doubled to right center, scoring Luke Robinson and Spencer Holcomb. The Bucs would commit an error to put runners on the corners for Koehler who smacked a double to make the lead 4-0 Catamounts. Caleb Robinson came up and stroked a single to give Western Carolina a 5-0 lead.

After a 48-minute rain delay, ETSU’s Caleb Smith smacked a solo home run to get the Bucs on the board. Christian Bailey, who got injured in the first inning, got things going in the bottom half of the inning, producing a single before being pinch run for. ETSU would go on to load the bases with two outs, but Ben Jackson flied out to right as the Catamounts escaped the danger.

Western Carolina’s bats remained hot, adding three more runs in the second. With Cameron Blaquiere and Holcomb on base, Sparks singled up the middle, driving in both runners to make the score 7-1. Sparks would score soon after when Justice Bigbie stepped up and ripped a double to give Western Carolina an 8-1 lead.

With the score 11-1 in the bottom of the seventh, Chris Cook doubled to right to score Jackson and keep the game alive for ETSU. In the bottom of the eighth, the bats came alive for the Bucs, hanging a four-spot on the Catamounts to make the deficit 11-6.

After working the bases loaded in the ninth, Jackson Greer earned a walk which would score Cade Gilbert. Cook came up to the plate next and smoked a grounder down the third-base line to score Jackson to make the score 11-8. With runners on all three bags, Baker struck out Caleb Longley to clinch the game for Western Carolina.

The SoCon Baseball Championship presented by Holston Gases continues Friday when No. 1 UNCG and No. 3 Wofford take the field at 4 p.m.

No. 1 UNCG 15, No. 3 Wofford 7

GREENVILLE, S.C. – Surviving a pair of comeback attempts and a 41-minute rain delay, No. 1 seed UNCG defeated No. 3 seed Wofford 15-7 on Friday at the Southern Conference Baseball Championship presented by Holston Gases at Fluor Field.

Staving off elimination, UNCG (39-14) advances to Saturday’s action and will face the winner of No. 9 seed Western Carolina on Saturday on 3:30 p.m. Wofford sees its season end at 36-23, posting its third 30-win season in the last four years and second-most wins in a single season since the program joined Division I in 1996.

Wofford scored three runs in the seventh inning to cut the deficit to two, but UNCG delivered the knockout punch with a six-run ninth inning to take the game 15-7.

The 15 runs were a season-high for UNCG which has now scored 10 or more runs in 15 contests this season. Five Spartans recorded at least two hits in the victory, led by SoCon Player of the Year Andrew Moritz’s 4-for-5, three-RBI effort.

Wofford featured three batters with two or more hits as All-SoCon second team member McClain Bradley led the way with two home runs and five RBIs.

Easton Welch (5-1) got the win for the Spartans, pitching 3 1/3 innings in relief, allowing two runs and striking out three batters. All-SoCon second-team member Andrew Wantz picked up his 10th save of the season, tossing three innings and striking out five while allowing just one earned run.  

Wofford’s Clay Schwaner (1-3) was tagged with the loss despite giving up zero earned runs. The freshman right-hander went 2 2/3 innings, yielding five unearned runs on six hits and one walk.

The Terriers would get on the board first when Collin Davis hit a solo home run to left field that would give Wofford a 1-0 lead after two innings of play.

UNCG roared back in the third, putting five runs on the board to take a lead that it would never relinquish. Moritz ripped a single to left field that brought in a pair of runners. Two batters later, Tripp Shelton launched a home run to put the Spartans up 5-0.

Wofford answered with three runs of its own in the bottom half of the inning. Bradley got things started with a two-run home run to left field followed by a Lawson Hill RBI double to cut the deficit to just one run.

Once again, the Spartans answered in the next inning. SoCon first-teamer Austin Embler doubled to advance Josh Madole to third. Madole would later score via a wild pitch, bringing up All-SoCon first-team member Caleb Webster, who would double to score Embler. After Moritz drove in Webster, a Dillon Stewart sacrifice fly capped off the inning for UNCG, which held a comfortable 9-4 lead.

With just nine outs left in their season, the Terriers mounted another comeback effort. Brett Rodriguez and Mack Nathanson each recorded singles and scored when Bradley smacked a home run to make the score 9-7.

UNCG would put the final nail in the coffin for Wofford, scoring six more runs and sealing the 15-7 victory, helped by home runs from Stewart and Cesar Trejo.

The SoCon Baseball Championship presented by Holston Gases continues Saturday with No. 2 Samford and No. 5 Mercer matching up at 12 p.m.

May 22 (Tuesday)
SoCon Championship presented by Holston Gases (SDN)
(Fluor Field; Greenville, S.C.)
Game 1: #9 Western Carolina 6, #8 The Citadel 5             

May 23 (Wednesday)
SoCon Championship presented by Holston Gases (SDN)
 (Fluor Field; Greenville, S.C.)
Game 2: #5 Mercer 19, #5 VMI 0 (7 inn.)                         

Game 3: #9 Western Carolina 10, #1 UNCG 2
Game 4: #2 Samford 4, #7 Furman 0
Game 5: #3 Wofford 8, #6 ETSU 7 (10 inn.) 

May 24 (Thursday)
SoCon Championship presented by Holston Gases (SDN)
 (Fluor Field; Greenville, S.C.)
Game 6: #1 UNCG 11, #4 VMI 7

Game 7: #6 ETSU 5, #7 Furman 2
Game 8: #5 Mercer 15, #9 Western Carolina 0 (7 inn.)                
Game 9: #2 Samford 5, #3 Wofford 2                             

May 25 (Friday)
SoCon Championship presented by Holston Gases (SDN)
 (Fluor Field; Greenville, S.C.)
Game 10: #9 Western Carolina 11, #6 ETSU 1                

Game 11: #1 UNCG 15, #3 Wofford 7

May 26 (Saturday)
SoCon Championship presented by Holston Gases (SDN)
Fluor Field; Greenville, S.C.)

Game 12: #5 Mercer vs. #2 Samford                                 12 p.m.
Game 13: #9 Western Carolina vs. #1 UNCG                    3:30 p.m.
Game 14: Winner Game 13 vs. Loser Game 12                   7 p.m.

May 27 (Sunday)
SoCon Championship presented by Holston Gases (SDN)
 (Fluor Field; Greenville, S.C.)
Game 15: Winner Game 12 vs. Winner Game 14              12 p.m.

^Game 16: Winner Game 15 vs. Loser Game 15              40 minutes after Game 15 

^ if necessary

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