Willis, Braves Scoot Past Post In Weekend Opener
PEMBROKE – UNCP rallied for single runs in each of the sixth and seventh innings behind a dominant relief performance from Brian Willis to post a 5-3 win over scrappy Post in the opener of a four-game weekend series Friday afternoon at Sammy Cox Field.
Kevin Dietrich drove in a pair of runs in registering a 3-for-4 day at the plate to pace a trio of Braves (12-4) with multi-hit outings. Keith Whitman’s go-ahead solo homer in the sixth – his fifth of the season – highlighted a 2-for-3 hitting line for the sophomore, with Jason Coker crossing the plate twice on a 2-for-3 plate performance as well. Donnie Dlabola turned in a RBI and a run scored on a 2-for-3 outing for the Eagles (0-1).
UNCP starter Jake Dailey struck out three and scattered six hits across 5-1/3 innings from the hill before giving way to Willis (2-0) in the midst of a 3-3 tie in the sixth. Willis, a Hope Mills native, managed just one strikeout, but did not allow a hit over the remainder of the game to pick up the win for the Braves. Brendan Wyman (0-1) saddled the loss for Post after yielding five earned runs on 10 hits over six innings in his first start of the campaign.
UNCP used Jordan Pegram’s leadoff triple, as well as ensuing RBI single by Whitman, to take a 1-0 lead in the second, but the Eagles countered with a run of their own in the third, loading the bases with its first four at-bats of the frame, before getting a single from Corey Huffine.
The Braves got consecutive singles from Josh Haley and Coker to lead off their half of the third and took a two-run lead on run-scoring knocks from Dietrich and Pegram but the visitors tied the game back up in the fourth with consecutive run-scoring hits from Joe Proscia and Dlabola.
Whitman’s led off the sixth with a mammoth shot over the wall in left field to give UNCP the lead for good, but the Braves got an insurance run in the seventh, using a walk, a wild pitch a passed ball and a Dietrich RBI single to provide the winning margin.