No. 12 Braves Rally To Down Pfeiffer In 11 Innings
PEMBROKE – A walk-off RBI double by Kenny Mickens with two outs in the bottom of the 11th inning plated Alex Pearce with the game-winning run as 12th-ranked UNCP fought off a valiant upset effort by visiting Pfeiffer with a 5-4 comeback victory on Wednesday evening at Sammy Cox Field.
The triumph kept the Braves (26-6) unbeaten in non-conference play and completed the season sweep for the Black and Gold against the Falcons as well. The setback marked the 12th-straight loss for Pfeiffer (13-24) who has not tasted victory since a 4-2 win at Limestone on March 12. The Falcons stranded 14 batters on the night, including six in scoring position, and struck out 12 times.
Senior Joe Mangum matched a career-best with four hits on five trips to the plate to pace the hosts, who also got a 3-for-5 outing from Brad Bridgeman and a 2-for-4 hitting line from Keith Whitman en route to their 17th double-digit hitting attack of the season. Aaron Parnell walked twice and scored once on the night as well, with Jason Coker delivering his fifth home run of the season in dramatic fashion.
Tyler Smith singled five times in six at-bats on the night to pace the Falcons, who also got two hits apiece from both Eric Shoemaker and Aarin Sharpe.
Braxton Lewis (4-0) struck out three and allowed just two hits across three innings of relief to pick up his fourth win of the season for UNCP. John Sullivan (0-2) surrendered one hit, two walks and the decisive earned run in the 11th to saddle the loss for the Falcons.
The Braves scored lone runs in each of the first, second and fourth innings to grab a 3-0 lead, but Pfeiffer answered back with an unearned run in the sixth, as well as three more scores in the seventh, to grab the late lead. Coker teed off on reliever Luke Wilhelm's first offering in the eighth to tie the game, but each team struggled to find key hits the rest of the way through regulation.
Pfeiffer used an ill-timed error, as well as an ensuing base hit, to put runners on the corners with one out in the top of the 11th frame, but Lewis induced a pivotal double play ball from the bat of Jesse Dunn that was aided by a rubber-like stretch by Joe Mangum on the first base bag. Wilhelm retired Parnell and Whitman to begin the bottom of the frame, but issued a full-count walk to Pearce, before issuing an intentional walk to Coker moments later.
UNCP will be back in action again this weekend when the Braves make the trek to Savannah, Ga., to do battle in a weekend set with No. 8 Armstrong Atlantic (24-5, 8-1 PBC) at Pirate Field. The squads will open up the set with a noon twinbill on Saturday, before closing out the series with a 1 p.m. single game on Sunday.