Mangum’s Walk Off Lifts No. 9 Braves Over Flagler In Series Opener
PEMBROKE – Joe Mangum's walk-off double with two strikes and two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning plated Keith Whitman with the game-winning run as No. 9 UNCP rallied back from a 3-0 deficit after four innings to turn back Flagler in the front half of a series-opening doubleheader on Saturday at Sammy Cox Field.
The win marked the first triumph for the Braves (18-3, 3-3 PBC) in a league series opener this season, while also stretching UNCP's win streak out to three games as well. The loss snapped a four-game winning streak for Flagler (11-9, 2-2) who also fell for the third time in four meetings all-time with the Black and Gold.
The Braves got base hits from six different players, but none were bigger than Mangum's after the Charlotte native was inserted into the lineup to start the eighth inning. Fellow senior Keith Whitman hit a solo home run to spark a three-run fifth inning for the hosts and highlight a 1-for-3 day at the plate that also included his walk in the ninth that set up the late dramatics.
John Sgromolo doubled in the first and hit a two-run homer in the third on a 2-for-4 outing for the visitors who got lone base hits from two other players as well.
Braxton Lewis (3-0) struck out one and yielded just a meaningless ninth-inning single in grabbing the win for UNCP, while Jonathan Armold (2-3) surrendered four earned runs on six hits and a trio of walks over his first complete game of the season in saddling the loss. He also struck out five.
Flagler used a pair of walks and Sgromolo's RBI double to take a quick 1-0 lead in the first, and then utilized an ill-timed error by the Braves in the third to set up Sgromolo's two-run home run with two outs to extend the advantage out to 3-0.
Whitman booked his first home run of the season to lead off the bottom of the fifth inning and get UNCP on the board, but the Braves would use a two-out walk by Josh Haley, as well as an ensuing double by Williams to keep the momentum going. Two wild pitches by Armold moments later would bring both runners across the plate and knot the game back up.
Armold retired each of the first two batters he faced in the bottom of the ninth before issuing a five-pitch walk to Whitman.