Braves Rally In 10th To Beat Lenoir-Rhyne
HICKORY – Alex Pearce's bases-loaded single with two outs in the 10th inning sparked a 4-run rally for UNCP as the 20th-ranked Braves twice rallied back from deficits before disposing of Lenoir-Rhyne, 13-9, Wednesday afternoon at Bears Field.
Josh Haley matched a career high with four hits and three runs scored en route to a 4-for-6 day at the plate for the Braves (26-9), while Kenny Mickens drove in four runs and walked twice on a 3-for-4 hitting line. Seth Kivett and Aaron Parnell each scored a trio of runs on 3-hit outings as well. UNCP pounded out 19 hits and drew eight walks in the outing, but left 14 stranded on the base paths, including nine in scoring position.
Lenoir-Rhyne (16-21) got two hits apiece from five different players, including cleanup hitter Brian Dice who drove in four runs on a double and a homer for the Bears.
Closer Brian Willis (2-1), the last of six arms on the day for the Braves, picked up the win for the visitors by striking out two and allowing just one hit in 2-1/3 innings of relief work. Ben Goldston (1-3) surrendered five hits and four earned runs in the top of the 10th en route to saddling the loss for the Bears.
The Braves plated the first two runs of the day in a productive first inning, and erased a one-run deficit with two more in the third. Lenoir-Rhyne got a solo homer from Evan Taylor, as well as a two-run single from Dalton Hall, in the bottom of the fifth to take a 7-5 advantage into the sixth, but the Braves answered with four of their own in the top of the next frame to go back on top, 9-7.
Taylor cut Lenoir-Rhyne's deficit in half with a one-out RBI single in the sixth, and Dice tied the game up for the third time with a sacrifice fly to left field in the next at-bat.
Goldston retired two of the first four Braves he faced in the 10th, but Derek Funk legged out an infield single to load the bases and set the table for Pearce's dramatics moments later. The Braves would get insurance runs with the next two at-bats on run-scoring knocks by both Parnell and Tom Porricelli.
UNCP will step back into conference play this weekend when the Braves head to Milledgeville, Ga., to battle 12th-ranked and PBC West-leading Georgia College (24-10, 12-3 PBC) in a three-game set at John Kurtz Field. The squads will open up the weekend with a 1 p.m. Saturday afternoon doubleheader and close out the set on Sunday at 1 p.m.