Coker’s Blast Lifts No. 11 Braves Past No. 7 North Georgia In Series Finale
PEMBROKE – Visiting and seventh-ranked North Georgia negated an early 1-0 deficit with three runs in the fifth inning, but Jason Coker's three-run blast with two outs in the bottom of the frame gave No. 11 UNCP a lead it would never relinquish as the Braves captured the weekend series with a 6-3 win in Sunday's finale at Sammy Cox Field.
UNCP (14-1, 2-1 PBC) got two hits apiece from Josh Haley, Joe Mangum and Keith Whitman, but it was Coker's (1-for-4) home run – his second round tripper in as many games – that proved to be the difference. Kenny Bellavance and Brad Hall each turned in 2-for-4 outings for North Georgia (9-3, 1-2).
Josh Bagley (3-0) offset six hits and three earned runs with seven strikeouts across a season-long seven innings of work to pick up the win for the hosts, with Braxton Lewis striking out four and yielding just one hit in two innings of work en route to grabbing his first save of the campaign. Alex Simmons (1-1) allowed two hits – including Coker's three-run blast – and recorded just one out en route to saddling the loss for the Saints.
Haley's one-out RBI single in the third would give the game's first lead to UNCP, but North Georgia doubled three times and singled once in a wind-aided three-run fifth inning to swing the momentum. Alex Pearce hit a clutch double with two outs in bottom half of the inning and Haley followed with a single moments later to set the table for Coker who hammered a two-strike offering from Simmons over the wall in left field.
UNCP would use a sacrifice fly from the bat of Chase Grissom, as well as a RBI single from J.J. Williams, to plate a pair of insurance runs in the sixth.
Bagley, who allowed just one hit through the first four innings, settled down nicely after yielding the big fifth inning to the Saints. The Hope Mills native allowed just two base runners, including one via an ill-timed error in the seventh, over his next two innings before giving way to Lewis to start the eighth.
UNCP will be back in action again on Wednesday when the Braves close out a short four-game home stand by battling Coker (6-9) in a 3 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.