GCSU Downs Braves In 11th To Take Series
MILLEDGEVILLE, Ga. – Shawn Ward's RBI single with two outs in the bottom of the 11th inning rallied 12th-ranked GCSU to a series-clinching 8-7 victory over No. 20 UNCP in the series rubber game between the two squads Sunday afternoon at John Kurtz Field.
Tom Porricelli drove in three runs on a triple in the 8th to key a 2-for-5 outing for the senior, with the Braves (27-11, 12-9 PBC) also getting multi-hit outings from Josh Haley (2-for-4) and Derek Funk (2-for-6). Jason Coker walked three times on a 1-for-3 hitting line for the visitors as well.
Kyle Allen homered and scored three runs on a 3-for-5 day at the plate for Georgia College (26-11, 14-4) who also got two hits apiece from Sean Harrell (2-for-3), Matt Pitts (2-for-5) and Jason Veyna (2-for-5). Harrell homered for the Bobcats as well.
Newcomer Brantley Hattrich (1-1) worked just one inning for UNCP, but was saddled with the loss after yielding two hits and the game-winning run in the 11th inning. Ryan Tabor (2-4) was unable to convert on a save opportunity for the hosts, but picked up his second win of the campaign despite allowing four hits and two runs in the late innings for the Bobcats.
Rudy Brown worked 3-2/3 scoreless innings in a clutch relief performance for the Braves, but did not pick up a decision. Closer Brian Willis was tagged with his first blown save of the season after allowing a run in the ninth. GCSU starter Martin Dewald struck out 10 and scattered six hits, two walks and four earned runs over seven strong innings but was not awarded a decision as well.
UNCP tallied a pair of 2-out hits and used an untimely fielding error by the Bobcats to plate three runs in the top of the first, but Georgia College used back-to-back homers from Allen and Harrell in the third to pull within a run, before taking the lead in the fourth on back-to-back RBI singles from Veyna and Chandler Snell.
After the Braves had seen 12 of its previous 13 batters retired in order, including 10 via the strikeout, a two-out solo homer by Kivett would tie the game back up in the fifth, but the Bobcats answered in the home half of the frame, scoring two runs on a Richard Pirkle RBI double, as well as a suicide squeeze bunt by Brett George, to take a 6-4 lead into the sixth.
Kenny Mickens singled to lead off the eighth and chase Dewald from the mound after 117 pitches, and the Braves put two of their next three on, including one on an ill-timed fielding error by the hosts, to set the table for Porricelli's go-ahead triple down the right field line. GCSU put its first two runners on in the bottom of the ninth, only to have the next two runners go down via a strikeout and a fly out. Pitts would tie the game moments later, however, on a run-scoring single to shallow left field.
The Braves looked to have something going in the 11th when Haley reached on a two-out single and moved to third on a stolen base and a throwing error on the steal attempt, but Tabor struck out Funk to slam the door on the threat. GCSU got a leadoff single from Allen in the home half of the frame, as well as an ensuing sacrifice bunt from Harrell that moved the runner into scoring position,
UNCP will open up a regular season-ending 9-game home stand on Wednesday when the Braves suit up to battle region rival Wingate (27-13) in a 7 p.m. contest at Sammy Cox Field. Admission prices are $5 for adults and $2 for children 18 years of age and younger. UNCP students are admitted free with a valid Braves Card.