GREENSBORO, N.C. – A walk-off two-run home run by Zack Budzik in the bottom of the 13th inning provided UNCG with an 11-9 victory over Furman and Spartan head coach Link Jarrett with his 200th career win on Saturday, April 6th at the UNCG Baseball Stadium.
Trailing 9-2 with two outs in the bottom of the sixth inning, UNCG (19-10, 4-4 SoCon) received a double by Coleman Sawyer and a walk by Ryan Caveness to spark its offense. Zach Kuchmaner delivered a single to second, scoring Sawyer, and teammate Jacquez Koonce followed with a double to left field to score Kuchmaner and Caveness, trimming the lead to 9-5.
That score would remain until the bottom of the ninth when Budzik singled to left and advanced to second on a throwing error. Two batters later, Caleb Webster smacked a two-run home run over the left field wall to slice Furman’s (11-19, 4-4 SoCon) lead to 9-7.
Josh Madole extended the ninth inning with a single up the middle, setting the table for Hogan Windish. Windish delivered his fourth home run of the season, a two-run shot to left, to knot the game at nine-all on the first pitch of the at-bat.
The two teams would remain tied for the next four innings until Caveness walked to leadoff the 13th. David Flores pinch ran for Caveness, moving to second two batters later on a grounder to third by Koonce. With Budzik at the plate, facing a 2-0 pitch, the freshman from Stallings, N.C., delivered a home run over the foul pole in left field to give the Spartans the 11-9 win.
Chad Sykes (4-2) picked up the win for the Spartans after limiting Furman to one hit over four innings, striking out five Paladin hitters along the way. He was one of three relievers, Brandon Stephens and Alex Hoppe the others, to toe the rubber for UNCG. That trio combined for 16 strikeouts and issued just seven walks over 11.2 innings.
Eric Taylor (0-1) took the loss for Furman after walking the winning run, Caveness, to start the 13th.
FAST FACTS (Game 2: vs. Furman)
-Brandon Stephens finished off the game by tossing 4.2 innings, allowing six hits and four runs, striking out a single-game season-high eight batters. His previous season-best was six K’s, which came at Mercer on March 23rd.
-Coleman Sawyer extended his team-best season-long hitting streak to 14 games with a double in the sixth inning.
-UNCG tallied 13 hits in the game, which gives them at least 10 hits in three of their last five games.
-The Spartan bullpen, which accounted for 16 K’s has now tallied double figure strikeouts in four games this season (10 at High Point, Feb. 19; 17 vs. Penn, March 2; 11 at Mercer, March 23).
-Josh Madole stretched his hitting streak to 10 games, his longest of the campaign, with a single in the fourth.
Game 1: Furman 10, UNCG 3
The opening game of the series, which began on Friday, April 5th, and concluded the following afternoon after inclement weather forced a suspension in play, went to Furman by a 10-3 decision.
The key to Furman’s success in the game was hurler John Michael Bertrand, who improved to 2-2 on the season after tossing a complete game eight-hitter. Bertrand, who struck out five UNCG hitters in the game, allowed three runs (two earned) while walking three.
The Paladins offense provided a 6-0 lead through the first three innings, taking advantage of two doubles and a triple in the top half of the first to score three runs. John Michael Boswell, who recorded the first inning triple, came through with a two-RBI single in the second to provide the fifth run for Furman. The sixth run came on a home run to right field by Sterling Turmon.
UNCG put its first run of the game across the plate in the fifth inning when a sacrifice fly to centerfield by Austin Embler scored Zach Kuchmaner from third. The second Spartan run came in the eighth after Jacquez Koonce reached on a fielder’s choice that allowed Josh Madole to score from third.
Furman countered with four runs in the top of the ninth, scoring the first run on a single into centerfield by Trent Alley. After a sacrifice fly to right field brought home the eighth run of the game for the Paladins, a miscue at second allowed Logan Taplett and Alley to move home for the final two Furman runs.
Madole, who finished 2-for-4 from the plate, extended his season-long hitting streak to nine games. Budzik also had two hits on the afternoon, both doubles, as the pair highlighted a Spartan lineup that finished with eight hits.
FAST FACTS (Game 1: vs. Furman)
-Spartans finished with eight hits in the game. That is the seventh time in as many SoCon contests that UNCG has had at least seven hits in a game.
-Zack Budzik, who tallied two doubles in the game, helped the Spartans record at least two doubles in a game for the 14th time this season. UNCG has at least two doubles in eight of its last 12 games.
-UNCG slips to 15-4 at home in the setback.
-The Spartans’ combo of Corey Jackson, Maddux Holshouser, Austin Parsley and Alex Hoppe combined to tally eight strikeouts out of the bullpen. That marks the sixth time this season that the UNCG bullpen has notched at least eight K’s against an opponent.
The two teams return to UNCG Baseball Stadium on Sunday, April 7th at 1 p.m. to complete the three-game series.