Braves Throttle AASU In Series Opener
PEMBROKE – UNCP posted season highs in both the runs and hits column behind a superb outing from all-American right hander Matt McGovern en route to a 19-0 victory over visiting Armstrong Atlantic Friday evening at Sammy Cox Field.
UNCP (22-9, 9-7 PBC) got multi-hit outings from eight different players en route to booking a season-best 21 hits – its most since hanging 23 safeties on East Stroudsburg in the 2008 season. Kenny Mickens homered for the fifth time this season to key a 3-for-3 night at the plate, with Derek Funk driving in a run on a 3-for-5 outing. Keith Whitman and Alex Pearce each turned in homers for the Braves as well.
The loss snapped a two-game series winning streak for Armstrong Atlantic (19-13, 3-7) who mustered just two hits on the night, including an infield fly ball that somehow found its way to the turf after a pair of UNCP infielders lost track of the white sphere in the lights.
McGovern (7-1) recovered from a slow start to record a phenomenal outing, offsetting six walks by yielding just a pair of hits and striking out six in eight strong innings from the hill. Newcomer Brantley Hattrich worked a hitless ninth for the Braves to play a part in the shutout as well. Thomas Gray (3-2) struck out eight in six innings of work for the Pirates, but saddled the loss after allowing six earned runs on 10 hits and three walks.
UNCP took a second inning lead on a RBI groundout from Josh Haley, but pushed its lead out to 4-0 in the third on a trio of two-out run-scoring knocks. Mickens' 2-run blast in the fifth, coupled with Aaron Parnell's bases-loaded triple in the seventh, would push the lead out to 9-0 before the Braves put the nail in the coffin on the shoulders of a 10-run eighth inning.
Whitman (3-run HR) and Pearce (solo) would highlight the eighth inning outburst with back-to-back home runs. The Braves would eventually send 14 batters to the plate in the frame.
The Braves and Pirates will close out their weekend set with a 2 p.m. Saturday afternoon doubleheader 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.