Errors, Alford Help Lead No. 5 UNCP Past St. Andrews
LAURINBURG – Drew Alford recorded his first career home run in a big fifth inning and fifth-ranked UNCP pounded out 12 hits in powering past error-prone St. Andrews, 5-3, on Wednesday afternoon at Clark Field.
The triumph helped UNCP (13-3) snap a two-game losing streak, while also giving the Braves their 10th-straight series victory over the region rivals. It was the fourth-straight loss for the Knights (5-10) since posting an upset victory over regionally-ranked Catawba last week.
Alford walked, doubled, homered and drove in four runs on a 3-for-4 day at the plate to pace the Braves, who also got a 2-for-4 outing from Drew Cole and 2-for-5 hitting lines from Max Gagnon and Tyler Potter. The Knights got 2-hit performances from four different players, including Matthew Beauchemin who walked as well on a 2-for-4 day. Travis Holland homered for the Knights as well.
UNCP starter Patrick McMahon (2-1) piccked up the win in a pre-determined pitching rotation after surrendering six hits and a lone earned run in four innings from the hill. He also struck out four. Brantley Hattrich struck out one and scattered three hits over two innings of effective relief work, while Braxton Lewis struck out one in a scoreless ninth to pick up his fifth save in as many opportunities. Starter Kyle Schade (0-1) took the loss for St. Andrews after yielding two runs (one earned) on two hits and a pair of walks in 2-1/3 innings from the hill.
The hosts used a leadoff double by Matt McCue to grab a 1-0 lead in the first on a RBI single by Michael Durig, but the Braves knotted the score back up in the second on a RBI single by Alford, and then took the lead in the third on a sac fly by J.J. Williams. Alford busted the game wide open with his three-run dinger in the fifth, but the Knights rallied for a pair of runs in the bottom of that frame to make things interesting.
The Braves had their chances to score in each of the next three frames, but stranded runners at third on all three occasions. St. Andrews loaded the bases with its first three at-bats in the seventh, but Hattrich and Lewis retired the final nine batters in order to seal the win.
The Braves will be back in action again this weekend when they suit up to battle Peach Belt Conference West Division foe Montevallo (8-8, 4-2 PBC) in a three-game set at Sammy Cox Field. Barring any weather changes, the clubs will open up the weekend with a 1 p.m. doubleheader on Saturday before closing out the weekend on Sunday at noon.